Infertile seeds of Yucca schottii: A beneficial role for the plant in the yucca-yucca moth mutualism?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The yucca-yucca moth interaction is a classic case of obligate mutualism. Female moths pollinate and oviposit in the gynoecium of the flower; however, maturing larvae eat a fraction of the developing seeds. We studied within-fruit distributions of four seed types (fertile, infertile, eaten and uneaten seeds) in order to evaluate costs and benefits in a Yucca schottii population in southeastern Arizona. We focused on how the spatial arrangement of seeds affected larval behaviour and, hence, the costs of the mutualism to the yucca. Infertile seeds were distributed throughout both infested and uninfested locules. Additionally, moth larvae feeding in a single locule preferred fertile seeds and even avoided infertile seeds and left the fruit significantly more often when they encountered infertile seeds. We suggest that, regardless of the cause of infertile seeds, they function as blocking units within seed locules and therefore reduce seed predation by moth larvae. We also suggest that, together with certain other fruit traits, the presence of infertile seeds promotes the evolutionary stability of this pollination mutualism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-76
Number of pages14
JournalEvolutionary Ecology
Volume10
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996

Fingerprint

Prodoxidae
Yucca
Symbiosis
mutualism
Moths
moth
Seeds
seed
seeds
Larva
Fruit
fruit
larva
fruits
insect larvae
gynoecium
seed predation
Pollination
pollination
cost

Keywords

  • Obligate mutualism
  • Pollination
  • Resource limitation
  • Seed predation
  • Yucca-yucca moth interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Ecology
  • Genetics(clinical)

Cite this

Infertile seeds of Yucca schottii : A beneficial role for the plant in the yucca-yucca moth mutualism? / Ziv, Yaron; Bronstein, Judith L.

In: Evolutionary Ecology, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1996, p. 63-76.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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