Role of seed size, phenology, oogenesis and host distribution in the specificity and genetic structure of seed weevils (Curculio spp.) in mixed forests

Harold Arias-Leclaire, Raúl Bonal, Daniel GarcÍa-LÓpez, Josep Maria Espelta

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    8 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2017 The Authors. Integrative Zoology published by International Society of Zoological Sciences, Institute of Zoology/Chinese Academy of Sciences and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd Synchrony between seed growth and oogenesis is suggested to largely shape trophic breadth of seed-feeding insects and ultimately to contribute to their co-existence by means of resource partitioning or in the time when infestation occurs. Here we investigated: (i) the role of seed phenology and sexual maturation of females in the host specificity of seed-feeding weevils (Curculio spp.) predating in hazel and oak mixed forests; and (ii) the consequences that trophic breadth and host distribution have in the genetic structure of the weevil populations. DNA analyses were used to establish unequivocally host specificity and to determine the population genetic structure. We identified 4 species with different specificity, namely Curculio nucum females matured earlier and infested a unique host (hazelnuts, Corylus avellana) while 3 species (Curculio venosus, Curculio glandium and Curculio elephas) predated upon the acorns of the 2 oaks (Quercus ilex and Quercus pubescens). The high specificity of C. nucum coupled with a more discontinuous distribution of hazel trees resulted in a significant genetic structure among sites. In addition, the presence of an excess of local rare haplotypes indicated that C. nucum populations went through genetic expansion after recent bottlenecks. Conversely, these effects were not observed in the more generalist Curculio glandium predating upon oaks. Ultimately, co-existence of weevil species in this multi-host-parasite system is influenced by both resource and time partitioning. To what extent the restriction in gene flow among C. nucum populations may have negative consequences for their persistence in a time of increasing disturbances (e.g. drought in Mediterranean areas) deserves further research.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)267-279
    JournalIntegrative Zoology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


    • Corylus avellana
    • Curculio spp.
    • Quercus spp.
    • genetic structure
    • trophic breadth


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