Skip to main content
Dryad logo

More or less? The effect of symbiont density in protective mutualisms

Citation

Drew, Georgia (2021), More or less? The effect of symbiont density in protective mutualisms, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.crjdfn35g

Abstract

Symbionts can provide hosts with effective protection from natural enemies, but it can sometimes come at a cost. It is unclear to what extent the density of symbionts modulates the cost and benefits of conferred protection. Here we use a meta-analysis of 103 effect sizes from a broad taxonomic range of protective symbioses, to show that the degree of both protection and cost afforded to hosts is a positive function of symbiont density. We found that the effects of symbiont density on protection and cost are robust across ecological contexts. Density-function relationships did not vary with host type, symbiont localization or transmission mode, nor the method of density manipulation. Together, our results suggest symbiont density can be a key variable determining the costs and benefits of a protective interaction.