Ecology and evolution affect network structure in an intimate marine mutualism.
The American Naturalist
Elucidating patterns and causes of interaction among mutualistic species is a major focus of ecology, and recent meta-analyses of terrestrial networks show that network-level reciprocal specialization tends to be higher in intimate mutualisms than in nonintimate mutualisms. It is largely unknown, however, whether this pattern holds for and what factors affect specialization in marine mutualisms. Here we present the first analysis of network specialization (H'2 ) for marine mutualistic networks. Specialization among eight Indo-Pacific networks of obligate mutualistic gobies and shrimps was indistinguishable from that among comparably intimate terrestrial mutualisms (ants-myrmecophytes) and higher than that among nonintimate ones (seed dispersers). Specialization was affected by variability in habitat use for both gobies and shrimps and by phylogenetic history for shrimps. Habitat use was phylogenetically conserved among shrimp, and thus effects of shrimp phylogeny on partner choice were mediated in part by habitat. By contrast, habitat use and pairing patterns in gobies were not related to phylogenetic history. This asymmetry appears to result fromevolutionary constraints on partner use in shrimps and convergence among distantly related gobies to utilize burrows provided by multiple shrimp species. Results indicate that the evolution of mutualism is affected by life-history characteristics that transcend environments and that different factors constrain interactions in disparate ecosystems.