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Insights for Conservation

Like some coevolutionary SWAT team, John Thompson, Bradley Cunningham, and colleagues have headed out every spring and summer for the last decade to the wilds of western Idaho and bordering areas in Oregon and Washington to camp out and infiltrate the world of the prairie starflower, Lithophragma parviflorum, and a little gray moth known as Greya politella. Now, their published rare case study in coevolution describes how the two species have coevolved in a variety of habitats, from open grass

A. J. S. Rayl

Like some coevolutionary SWAT team, John Thompson, Bradley Cunningham, and colleagues have headed out every spring and summer for the last decade to the wilds of western Idaho and bordering areas in Oregon and Washington to camp out and infiltrate the world of the prairie starflower, Lithophragma parviflorum, and a little gray moth known as Greya politella. Now, their published rare case study in coevolution describes how the two species have coevolved in a variety of habitats, from open grassland to ponderosa pine woodland and streamside canyons.1 The paper presents a glimpse into how species interactions evolve and the impact those interactions have.

As with most relationships, this one between moth and flower proved to be sometimes mutually beneficial, sometimes ambivalent, and sometimes downright antagonistic, depending on their locations. Although the coevolutionary hotspots and coldspots the Cunningham-Thompson teams traversed represented only part of the range...

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