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Abstract Mutualistic interactions almost always pro-duce both costs and benefits for each of the interacting

Summary: Abstract Mutualistic interactions almost always pro-
duce both costs and benefits for each of the interacting
species. It is the difference between gross benefits and
costs that determines the net benefit and the per-capita
effect on each of the interacting populations. For exam-
ple, the net benefit of obligate pollinators, such as yuc-
ca and senita moths, to plants is determined by the dif-
ference between the number of ovules fertilized from
moth pollination and the number of ovules eaten by the
pollinator's larvae. It is clear that if pollinator popula-
tions are large, then, because many eggs are laid, costs
to plants are large, whereas, if pollinator populations
are small, gross benefits are low due to lack of pollina-
tion. Even though the size and dynamics of the pollina-
tor population are likely to be crucial, their importance
has been neglected in the investigation of mechanisms,
such as selective fruit abortion, that can limit costs and
increase net benefits. Here, we suggest that both the
population size and dynamics of pollinators are impor-
tant in determining the net benefits to plants, and that


Source: Azevedo, Ricardo - Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Houston
Holland, J. Nathaniel - Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Rice University


Collections: Biology and Medicine; Environmental Sciences and Ecology