Duncan, A. B.,Dusi, E.,Jacob, F.,Ramsayer, J.,Hochberg, M. E.,Kaltz, O.
Antagonistic coevolution between hosts and parasites is a key process in the genesis and maintenance of biological diversity. Whereas coevolutionary dynamics show distinct patterns under favourable environmental conditions, the effects of more realistic, variable conditions are largely unknown. We investigated the impact of a fluctuating environment on antagonistic coevolution in experimental microcosms of Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 and lytic phage SBWF2. High-frequency temperature fluctuations caused no deviations from typical coevolutionary arms race dynamics. However, coevolution was stalled during periods of high temperature under intermediate-and low-frequency fluctuations, generating temporary coevolutionary cold spots. Temperature variation affected population density, providing evidence that eco-evolutionary feedbacks act through variable bacteria-phage encounter rates. Our study shows that environmental fluctuations can drive antagonistic species interactions into and out of coevolutionary cold and hot spots. Whether coevolution persists or stalls depends on the frequency of change and the environmental optima of both interacting players.