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Trends Ecol Evol. 1992 Jan;7(1):10-5. doi: 10.1016/0169-5347(92)90191-D.

Interrelationships of yuccas and yucca moths.

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  • 1Dept of Entomological Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Purposeful pollination of yucca by females of a moth that produces larvae that feed on some of the seeds is a classic example of plant-animal mutualism. Recent research has focused on the complex interspecific nature of this association. Pollinators are members of two genera with different oviposition and larval biologies. There appear to be several sibling species among populations of the pollinator that were formerly considered to be a single widespread generalist, and these may include sympatric nonpollinator 'cheaters'. Bogus yucca moths, members of a third genus, which neither transport pollen nor feed in the seed but depend upon the inflorescences, are niche specific and often host-species specific and include one leaf-mining species. Their larvae can spend many years in diapause before synchronized development.

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