The consequences of exploitation for plant-pollinator mutualisms

Emily Jones (April 7, 2011)

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Species exist in complex biotic environments, engaging in a variety of antagonistic and cooperative interactions that contribute to their population and evolutionary dynamics. However, studies tend to concentrate on each pairwise interaction in isolation. By doing so, they may overlook significant feedbacks between the interactions. In this talk, I will focus on plant-pollinator mutualisms, which are often beset by species that reduce the benefits of the mutualism by exploiting the plant, the pollinator, or both. Through a combination of theoretical and empirical results, I will demonstrate how predictions about the ecological stability of mutualisms and the level of cooperation between mutualistic partners are changed by consideration of exploiters such as non-pollinating seed predators and predators of pollinators.