Atsushi Kawakita

Center for Ecological Research

Kyoto University


The primary focus of my research is on the ecology and evolution of obligate pollination mutualism between Phyllantheae plants (Phyllanthaceae) and Epicephala moths (Gracillariidae). I use this mutualism as a model to answer (1) how plant–insect mutualisms evolve, diveristy and are lost through evolutionary time, (2) what factors maintain the stability of mutualisms, (3) how and why species-specificity evolves and (4) how plant–pollinator mutualisms may promote plant diversification.

I am also broadly interested in the natural history and diversity of plant–pollinator and plant–herbivore interactions. In collaboration with Makoto Kato and colleagues, I have studied, for example, the diversification of bryophyte-feeding Micropterigidae, fern sporing phenology and its relation to spore feeding Lepidotera, and nocturnal moth pollination in Diplomorpha (Thymelaeaceae). These studies helped me advance my understanding of how interaction between species shapes the diversity of plant and insect life forms.

Phyllantheae–Epicephala obligate pollination mutualism