Insect mutualisms are essential for reproduction of many plants, protection of plants and other insects, and provisioning of nutrients for insects. Disruption of these mutualisms by global change can have important implications for ecosystem processes. Here, we assess the general effects of global change on insect mutualisms, including the possible impacts on mutualistic networks. We find that the effects of global change on mutualisms are extremely variable, making broad patterns difficult to detect. We require studies focusing on changes in cost-benefit ratios, effects of partner dependency, and degree of specialization to further understand how global change will influence insect mutualism dynamics. We propose that rapid coevolution is one avenue by which mutualists can ameliorate the effects of global change.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science