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?

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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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