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Cheaters must prosper : reconciling theoretical and empirical perspectives on cheating in mutualism [Ecology Letters]

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

Cheating is a focal concept in the study of mutualism, with the majority of researchers considering cheating to be both prevalent and highly damaging. However, current definitions of cheating do not reliably capture the evolutionary threat that has been a central motivation for the study of cheating. We describe the development of the cheating concept and distill a relative-fitness-based definition of cheating that encapsulates the evolutionary threat posed by cheating, i.e. that cheaters will spread and erode the benefits of mutualism. We then describe experiments required to conclude that cheating is occurring and to quantify fitness conflict more generally.(...)

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