April 24 2014

5:00 pm BSRB 154

EcoEvoPub Series

Graduate Student Presentations


Christopher Johnson
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Arizona

"The Dark Side of Mutualism: How Antagonism, Competition, and Cheating Alter Mutualistic Interactions"

Mutualisms are traditionally viewed as purely beneficial interactions. Yet, because producing mutualistic benefits can be costly (e.g., plants invest energy in nectar to attract pollinators), mutualism represents a case of reciprocal exploitation in which the benefits each species acquires outweigh the costs they incur by engaging in the interaction. Because mutualistic benefits can be limiting resources and species gain a selective advantage by obtaining increased benefits while reducing costs, mutualism is inherently prone to antagonism (e.g., cheating) and competition. Broadly, I study how antagonism, competition, and mutualism interact to influence the ecology and evolution of species inhabiting variable environments using a combination of theory and empirical experimentation involving ant-plant and plant-pollinator mutualisms as study systems.















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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