Using text-mined trait data to test for cooperate-and-radiate co-evolution between ants and plants

Mutualisms may be "key innovations" that spur lineage diversification by augmenting niche breadth, geographic range, or population size, thereby increasing speciation rates or decreasing extinction rates. Whether mutualism accelerates diversification in both interacting lineages is an open question. Research suggests that plants that attract ant mutualists have higher diversification rates than non-ant associated lineages. We ask whether the reciprocal is true: does the interaction between ants and plants also accelerate diversification in ants, i.e. do ants and plants cooperate-and-radiate? We used a novel text-mining approach to determine which ant species associate with plants in defensive or seed dispersal mutualisms. We investigated patterns of lineage diversification across a recent ant phylogeny using BiSSE, BAMM, and HiSSE models. Ants that associate mutualistically with plants had elevated diversification rates compared to non-mutualistic ants in the BiSSE model, with a similar trend in BAMM, suggesting ants and plants cooperate-and-radiate. However, the best-fitting model was a HiSSE model with a hidden state, meaning that diversification models that do not account for unmeasured traits are inappropriate to assess the relationship between mutualism and ant diversification. Against a backdrop of diversification rate heterogeneity, the best-fitting HiSSE model found that mutualism actually decreases diversification: mutualism evolved much more frequently in rapidly diversifying ant lineages, but then subsequently slowed diversification. Thus, it appears that ant lineages first radiated, then cooperated with plants ​
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