Mutualisms, interactions between two species that benefit both of them, have long captured the public imagination. Their influence transcends levels of biological organization from cells to populations, communities, and ecosystems. Mutualistic symbioses were crucial to the origin of eukaryotic cells, and perhaps to the invasion of land. Mutualisms occur in every terrestrial and aquatic habitat; indeed, ecologists now believe that almost every species on Earth is involved directly or indirectly in one or more of these interactions. Mutualisms are essential to the reproduction and survival of virtually all organisms, as well as to nutrient cycles in ecosystems. Furthermore, the key ecosystem services that mutualists provide mean that they are increasingly being considered as conservation priorities, ironically at the same time as the acute risks to their ecological and evolutionary persistence are increasingly being identified. This volume, the first general work on mutualism to appear in almost thirty years, provides a detailed and conceptually-oriented overview of the subject. Focusing on a range of ecological and evolutionary aspects over different scales (from individual to ecosystem), the chapters in this book provide expert coverage of our current understanding of mutualism whilst highlighting the most important questions that remain to be answered. In bringing together a diverse team of expert contributors, this novel text captures the excitement of a dynamic field that will help to define its future research agenda.
It is difficult for any one person to provide an overview of mutualism biology, but Judith Bronstein has assembled a formidable team of authors for this edited volume, all experts in their field, who largely succeed in providing a snapshot of the state of the art of mutualism research. The inclusion of numerous information boxes by additional authors provides extra depth and supplementary viewpoints that increase the usefulness of the book.[...] highly relevant for general conservation biology, given the increasing recognition of the frequency of mutualistic interactions in the wild and how they shape both ecosystems and the life histories of particular species. * David Nash, Conservation Biology * [T]his book is an impressive and important contribution to the field and I enthusiastically recommend it to readers [...]. This book will be particularly beneficial to graduate students developing ideas for independent research. It will also likely serve as the go-to reference for both basic and applied professionals who study species interactions. The engaging and clear language used throughout the book make it an accessible resource for public audiences and undergraduates as well. I look forward to reading about the research inspired by Mutualism. * Ecological Restoration Journal * The book presents interesting, detailed information ... Recommended. * D. A. Brass, CHOICE * One of the pleasures of reading Judith Bronsteinâs marvelous new book is seeing that mutualism is no longer a problem. The apparent contradictions between what clearly is, and what ought to be, have by and large been resolved. There are not only solutions for mutualismâs existence problem, but a wide array of new concepts, methods, and tools that take biologists in exciting new directions. The book both summarizes and moves beyond recent discoveries, suggesting fundamental questions to occupy both the next generation of students and those of us of less tender years. * Doug Boucher, Integrative and Comparative Biology *