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Trends Ecol Evol. 2016 Apr;31(4):269-80. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2016.01.006. Epub 2016 Feb 6.

Convergence in Multispecies Interactions.

Author information

1
Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. Electronic address: lbittles@fas.harvard.edu.
2
Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
3
Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; Harvard Forest, Harvard University, 324 North Main Street, Petersham, MA 01366, USA.
4
Departments of Bacteriology and Botany, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 430 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA.

Abstract

The concepts of convergent evolution and community convergence highlight how selective pressures can shape unrelated organisms or communities in similar ways. We propose a related concept, convergent interactions, to describe the independent evolution of multispecies interactions with similar physiological or ecological functions. A focus on convergent interactions clarifies how natural selection repeatedly favors particular kinds of associations among species. Characterizing convergent interactions in a comparative context is likely to facilitate prediction of the ecological roles of organisms (including microbes) in multispecies interactions and selective pressures acting in poorly understood or newly discovered multispecies systems. We illustrate the concept of convergent interactions with examples: vertebrates and their gut bacteria; ectomycorrhizae; insect-fungal-bacterial interactions; pitcher-plant food webs; and ants and ant-plants.

KEYWORDS:

community ecology; convergent evolution; microbe; mutualism; symbiosis

PMID:
26858111
DOI:
10.1016/j.tree.2016.01.006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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