Indirect interactions

Indirect interactions and conflict between mutualist partners

  • How do antagonisms (competition, interference, predation) between species sharing a mutualist partner feed back to influence the dynamics of the system as a whole?
  • What are the relative roles of indirect interactions in determining population dynamics in systems of coupled mutualism and antagonism?
  • How does the degree of specialization of the mutualist partners affect the system’s persistence under different types of antagonistic interactions?


Mutualisms are ubiquitous in nature, and many species simultaneously participate in multiple mutualisms with different partners. If we want to fully understand such a system, we must consider the potential for direct interactions between the different mutualist partners and the resulting indirect interactions. In many natural systems, the potential for antagonisms between different mutualists (e.g. resource / interference competition, non-consumptive antagonism, predation) exists. Although these types of interactions have rarely been rigorously examined, they are relevant to many empirical systems. A general theory of these types of interactions is needed as we may expect these antagonisms to destabilize the mutualistic interactions.

Along with Drs. Chris Johnson (ETH-Zurich), Régis Ferrière (The University of Arizona, École normale supérieure), and Judie Bronstein (The University of Arizona), I am developing mathematical models to investigate the potential population dynamical and eco-evolutionary consequences of these types of species interaction network.

More on this work is coming soon.



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