Erol Akçay

Assistant Professor of Biology,
Department of Biology,
University of Pennsylvania

Interactions between mechanisms maintaining mutualisms

Smithsonian Image

Mutualisms evolve and are maintained when one species receives benefits from benefiting another species. There are many mechanisms that can feed back the benefits provided to a partner to the one supplying it, including passive (e.g., by-product and various kinds of partner fidelity feedbacks) and active feedbacks (e.g., partner choice, sanctioning). While many of these mechanisms are well-understood individually, their interactions can produce unexpected patterns, especially in varying environments. In this talk, I will present models that incorporate multiple kinds of feedbacks operating in mutualisms and the complexity of outcomes that can result when they interact with each other. In particular, I will illustrate how combination of differ-ent mechanisms and context dependency can result in the maintenance of variation in mutualisms.

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