Pursuing the big questions about interspecific mutualism: a review of theoretical approaches

  title={Pursuing the big questions about interspecific mutualism: a review of theoretical approaches},
  author={Jason D Hoeksema and Emilio M. Bruna},
Abstract Along with increases in empirical information about interspecific mutualisms have come both new and refined questions about them. These questions have spurred diversification in the theoretical approaches being applied to interspecific mutualism. This theoretical literature has become large and potentially confusing, but as a whole is very relevant to answering the current important questions about mutualism. We first present three important questions about mutualisms raised by recent… 
Interacting Guilds: Moving beyond the Pairwise Perspective on Mutualisms
  • M. Stanton
  • Environmental Science
    The American Naturalist
  • 2003
A major goal of this symposium is to broaden and shift this pairwise perspective and make it concordant with the emerging view that locally exclusive mutualisms between just two species are the exception and that many communities include guilds of mutualistic species on one or both sides of the interaction.
Spatial Structure Can Decrease Symbiotic Cooperation
An artificial life simulation is created that is used to examine mutualism evolution based on the probability of vertical transmission (symbiont being passed to offspring) and the spatial structure of the environment and it is found that spatial structure can lead to less mutualism at intermediate vertical transmission rates.
Competition and Coexistence: Exploring Mechanisms That Restrict and Maintain Diversity within Mutualist Guilds
It is suggested that these guilds may provide powerful model systems for exploring multiple mechanisms of species coexistence, and how these mechanisms may be modified by evolutionary adaptation is discussed.
Strategies of a parasite of the ant–Acacia mutualism
It is discussed how this system allows the identification of strategies that characterize parasites of mutualisms, and how P. gracilis produced smaller colonies with a higher proportion of alates than did the mutualist and thus showed an “r-like” strategy.
Evolution of mutualism through spatial effects.
Ecological Dynamics of Mutualist/Antagonist Communities
The results suggest that mutualisms can persist surprisingly well in the presence of highly specialized antagonists but that they exhibit distinctly different temporal and spatial dynamics when antagonists are present, pointing to the critical importance of studying the dynamics of pairwise interactions in community contexts.
Coexistence of mutualists and non-mutualists in a dual-lattice model.
Variation in host-symbiont compatability among Cassiopea-algal symbioses
Conventional wisdom suggests that mutualisms are best defined as reciprocal exploitations that provide net benefits to the partners involved, but the extent to which natural systems conform to these theoretical principles is questionable.
Cooperation and conflict in ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) farming mutualisms: A review
Two best-known cases of ant farming are reviewed: fungus-gro wing by attine ants and Homoptera-tending by various groups of ants, highlighting a promising new take on classicMutualisms.
Tolerance traits and the stability of mutualism
It is described how phenotypic plasticity in honeydew production may be a tolerance trait that has prevented escalation into an antagonistic arms race and instead led to mutualistic coevolution.


Our Current Understanding of Mutualism
  • J. Bronstein
  • Environmental Science
    The Quarterly Review of Biology
  • 1994
The recent primary literature is reviewed in order to assess quentitatively the frequency of studies of mutualism, the types of questions they address, and their general scientific approach, and eight research questions whose answers have the potential to reveal broad-based generalizations about the evolution and ecology of Mutualism.
The stability and persistence of mutualisms embedded in community interactions.
It is predicted that mutualisms should be common in the real world, a prediction matching empirial findings and in contrast to the predictions from local stability analysis of basic two-species models.
The Benefits of Mutualism: A Conceptual Framework
Using the conceptual framework presented here, including in particular by‐product benefits, it is shown how it is possible to construct more parsimonious alternatives to both models of mutualism.
The evolution of interspecific mutualisms.
  • M. Doebeli, N. Knowlton
  • Biology, Economics
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1998
For mutualism to evolve, increased investments in a partner must yield increased returns, and spatial structure in competitive interactions is required, and under these biologically plausible assumptions, mutualism evolves with surprising ease.
Constraints on the Evolution of Mutualisms
  • H. Howe
  • Environmental Science
    The American Naturalist
  • 1984
A brief discussion of pollination and seed dispersal suggests checks to mutualistic coevolution, and indicates that reciprocal adaptation, where it occurs, is general rather than specific.
Patterns of Mutualistic Interactions in Pollination and Seed Dispersal: Connectance, Dependence Asymmetries, and Coevolution
  • P. Jordano
  • Environmental Science
    The American Naturalist
  • 1987
Patterns of connectance and strength of mutual dependence in mutualisms have been examined by comparing the fraction of possible pairwise interactions established in a series of plant-pollinator and plant-seed disperser systems and suggest a mode by which diffuse coevolution can proceed.
Evolution of mutualistic symbiosis without vertical transmission.
A mathematical model is developed to clarify the conditions under which mutualistic symbiosis without vertical transmission should evolve and indicates that all mutualisms evolve perfect vertical transmission if the relationship is really mutualistic.
Distinguishing mechanisms for the evolution of co-operation.
  • D. Janzen
  • Biology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1980
'Coevolution' may be usefully defined as an evolutionary change in a trait of the individuals in one population in response to a trait of the individuals of a second population, followed by an
Models of Some Ant-Plant Mutualisms
Numerical simulations indicate that the locally stable equilibrium point "attracts" reasonable initial population sizes of the three species and suggests that many mutualisms are stabilized, and not merely bounded by a third species.