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Data from: Spatial heterogeneity lowers rather than increases host-parasite specialization


Hesse, Elze et al. (2015), Data from: Spatial heterogeneity lowers rather than increases host-parasite specialization, Dryad, Dataset,


Abiotic environmental heterogeneity can promote the evolution of diverse resource specialists, which in turn may increase the degree of host-parasite specialization. We coevolved Pseudomonas fluorescens and lytic phage ϕ2 in spatially structured populations, each consisting of two interconnected subpopulations evolving in the same or different nutrient media (homogeneous and heterogeneous environments, respectively). Counter to the normal expectation, host-parasite specialization was significantly lower in heterogeneous compared with homogeneous environments. This result could not be explained by dispersal homogenizing populations, as this would have resulted in the heterogeneous treatments having levels of specialization equal to or greater than that of the homogeneous environments. We argue that selection for costly generalists is greatest when the coevolving species are exposed to diverse environmental conditions and that this can provide an explanation for our results. A simple coevolutionary model of this process suggests that this can be a general mechanism by which environmental heterogeneity can reduce rather than increase host-parasite specialization.

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