Meeting: Catalysis Meeting

Transitions between Mutualism & Parasitism: Integrating Theory & Empiricism

Date28-Feb-2012 ~ 2-Mar-2012
ProjectTransitions between Mutualism & Parasitism: Integrating Theory & Empiricism
SummaryAn important challenge in biology is to understand factors associated with the evolution and persistence of mutualisms and shifts from and to parasitism. Geographic variation among populations in evolution of traits associated with species interactions is recognized as central to shaping both the ecological theatre and the evolutionary play of the mutualism-parasitism continuum at local and landscape scales. Our knowledge of such issues will be advanced by bringing together scientists interested in working on similar study systems and that have the diverse conceptual perspectives and necessary expertise, including theory and empiricism of landscape and population ecology, evolution, genetics, and systematics. We will utilize a study system comprised of members of the Caryophyllaceae (e.g., Silene spp.) and their specialist pollinating seed predator moths, Noctuidae (e.g., Hadena spp.) as well as 3rd party non-specialist moth co-pollinators. Local co-occurrence of all species in this study system vary in relative frequency across populations throughout the landscape and species' ranges, thus providing a unique opportunity to investigate the context-dependent evolution of mutualisms, in contrast with the coevolved yucca and fig systems. Recent theory predicts local conditions that alter the ecological and evolutionary outcomes of species interactions, thereby providing us with a unique opportunity to further develop theory and empirically test the slippery slope of transitions between mutualism and parasitism. This meeting will bring together scientists interested in the Silene-Hadena model system to examine the context-dependent conditions that may shape the geographic mosaic landscape of the mutualism-parasitism gamut.