We develop and analyze an explicit multilocus genetic model of coevolution. We assume that interactions between two species (mutualists, competitors, or victim and exploiter) are mediated by a pair of additive quantitative traits that are also subject to direct stabilizing selection toward intermediate optima. Using a weak-selection approximation, we derive analytical results for a symmetric case with equal locus effects and no mutation, and we complement these results by numerical simulations of more general cases. We show that mutualistic and competitive interactions always result in coevolution toward a stable equilibrium with no more than one polymorphic locus per species. Victim-exploiter interactions can lead to different dynamic regimes including evolution toward stable equilibria, cycles, and chaos. At equilibrium, the victim is often characterized by a very large genetic variance, whereas the exploiter is polymorphic in no more than one locus. Compared to related one-locus or quantitative genetic models, the multilocus model exhibits two major new properties. First, the equilibrium structure is considerably more complex. We derive detailed conditions for the existence and stability of various classes of equilibria and demonstrate the possibility of multiple simultaneously stable states. Second, the genetic variances change dynamically, which in turn significantly affects the dynamics of the mean trait values. In particular, the dynamics tend to be destabilized by an increase in the number of loci.
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Vol. 60 • No. 7