Cheaters don't always win: Species that work together do better

Published Date: 10/19/2020
The sign of a healthy personal relationship is one that is equally mutual—where you get out just as much as you put in. Nature has its own version of a healthy relationship. Known as mutualisms, they are interactions between species that are mutually beneficial for each species. One example is the interaction between plants and pollinators, where your apple trees are pollinated and the honeybee gets nectar as a food reward. But what makes these mutualisms persist in nature? If rewards like nectar are offered freely, does this make mutualisms more susceptible to other organisms that take those rewards without providing a service in return?