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Consistency in mutualism relies on local, rather than wider community biodiversity

Dunkley, Katie, Cable, Jo ORCID: and Perkins, Sarah E. ORCID: 2020. Consistency in mutualism relies on local, rather than wider community biodiversity. Scientific Reports 10 , 21255. 10.1038/s41598-020-78318-x

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Mutualistic interactions play a major role in shaping the Earth’s biodiversity, yet the consistent drivers governing these beneficial interactions are unknown. Using a long-term (8 year, including > 256 h behavioural observations) dataset of the interaction patterns of a service-resource mutualism (the cleaner-client interaction), we identified consistent and dynamic predictors of mutualistic outcomes. We showed that cleaning was consistently more frequent when the presence of third-party species and client partner abundance locally increased (creating choice options), whilst partner identity regulated client behaviours. Eight of our 12 predictors of cleaner and client behaviour played a dynamic role in predicting both the quality (duration) and quantity (frequency) of interactions, and we suggest that the environmental context acting on these predictors at a specific time point will indirectly regulate their role in cleaner-client interaction patterns: context-dependency can hence regulate mutualisms both directly and indirectly. Together our study highlights that consistency in cleaner-client mutualisms relies strongly on the local, rather than wider community—with biodiversity loss threatening all environments this presents a worrying future for the pervasiveness of mutualisms.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2045-2322
Funders: NERC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 November 2020
Date of Acceptance: 23 November 2020
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 00:24

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