Research Overview

Why do organisms cooperate?

All organisms need mutually beneficial interactions with other organisms in order to function and survive. These relationships enable animals and plants to cope with the range of physiological (e.g., temperature, drought, nutrient availability) and biological challenges (e.g. predators, parasites, and pathogens) that they encounter. Every major ecosystem on Earth is founded on mutually beneficial keystone relationships (e.g., figs, corals). No organism in nature functions completely by itself or in a vacuum. Degree of cooperation within species is largely understood as more related individuals (kin) usually exhibiting more cooperation. However, there is no kinship effect between different species, yet even in the absence of ‘kinship’, there are factors that influence levels of cooperation between different species, and these often overlap with those factors that affect cooperation within species.


B.S. University of Chicago 1977.

Ph.D. University of Iowa 1988.

Selected Publications

What and who are the “players” involved in given interactions, and how are they distributed?

Martinson, E.O., E.A. Herre, C.A. Machado, A.E. Arnold (2012) Culture-free survey reveals diverse and distinctive fungal communities associated with developing figs (Ficus spp.) in Panama. Microbial Ecology 64(4): 1073-1084. DOI 10.1007/ s00248-012-0079-x

Rojas, E.I., S.A. Rehner, G.J. Samuels, S.A. Van Bael, E.A. Herre, P. Cannon, R. Chen, J. Pang, R. Wang, Y. Zhang, Y-Q. Peng, and T. Sha (2010) Colletotrichum gloeosporioides s.l. associated with Theobroma cacao and other plants in Panama: multilocus phylogenies distinguish host-associated pathogens from asymptomatic endophytes. Mycologia 102: 1318-1338.

Herre, E.A., K.C. Jander, and C.A. Machado (2008) Evolutionary ecology of figs and their associates: ongoing progress and outstanding puzzles. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 39: 439-458.

What are the effects, costs and benefits of biotic interactions?

Martinson, E.O., K.C. Jandér, Y.Q. Peng, H.H. Chen, C.A. Machado, A.E. Arnold, E.A. Herre (2013) Relative investment in egg load and poison sac in fig wasps: implications for physiological mechanisms underlying seed and wasp production in figs. Acta Ecologica.

Jander, C. and E.A. Herre (2010) Host sanctions and pollinator cheating in the fig tree-fig wasp mutualism. Proceedings of the Royal Society 277: 1687 1481-1488.

Mejía, L.C., E.I. Rojas, Z. Maynard, A.E. Arnold, S.A. Van Bael, G.J. Samuels, N. Robbins, and E.A. Herre (2008) Endophytic fungi as biocontrol agents of Theobroma cacao pathogens. Biological Control 46: 4-14.

Herre, E.A., L.C. Mejia, D.A. Kyllo, E. Rojas, Z. Maynard, A. Butler, and S.A. Van Bael (2007) Implications of observed anti-pathogen effects of fungal endophytes in roots, leaves, and fruit of some tropical host plants. Ecology 88: 550-558.

How do mutualisms and parasitisms affect the larger community of plants and animals?

Mangan, S.A., S.A. Schnitzer, E.A., Herre, K. Mack, M.I. Valencia, E. Sanchez, and J.D. Bever (2010) Negative plant-soil feedbacks predict relative species abundance in a tropical forest. Nature 466: 752-755.

Herre, E.A. (1996) An overview of studies on a community of Panamanian figs. Journal of Biogeographyvol. 23, 593-607.

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