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Spatial complementarity and the coexistence of species

Vel�zquez, Jorge; Garrahan, Juan P.; Eichhorn, Markus P.

Spatial complementarity and the coexistence of species Thumbnail


Jorge Vel�zquez

Markus P. Eichhorn


Eric Gordon Lamb


© 2014 Velázquez et al. Coexistence of apparently similar species remains an enduring paradox in ecology. Spatial structure has been predicted to enable coexistence even when population-level models predict competitive exclusion if it causes each species to limit its own population more than that of its competitor. Nevertheless, existing hypotheses conflict with regard to whether clustering favours or precludes coexistence. The spatial segregation hypothesis predicts that in clustered populations the frequency of intraspecific interactions will be increased, causing each species to be self-limiting. Alternatively, individuals of the same species might compete over greater distances, known as heteromyopia, breaking down clusters and opening space for a second species to invade. In this study we create an individual-based model in homogeneous two-dimensional space for two putative sessile species differing only in their demographic rates and the range and strength of their competitive interactions. We fully characterise the parameter space within which coexistence occurs beyond population-level predictions, thereby revealing a region of coexistence generated by a previously-unrecognised process which we term the triadic mechanism. Here coexistence occurs due to the ability of a second generation of offspring of the rarer species to escape competition from their ancestors.We diagnose the conditions under which each of three spatial coexistence mechanisms operates and their characteristic spatial signatures. Deriving insights from a novel metric - ecological pressure - we demonstrate that coexistence is not solely determined by features of the numericallydominant species. This results in a common framework for predicting, given any pair of species and knowledge of the relevant parameters, whether they will coexist, the mechanism by which they will do so, and the resultant spatial pattern of the community. Spatial coexistence arises from complementary combinations of traits in each species rather than solely through self-limitation.Copyright:


Velázquez, J., Garrahan, J. P., & Eichhorn, M. P. (2014). Spatial complementarity and the coexistence of species. PLoS ONE, 9(12), Article e114979.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 16, 2014
Online Publication Date Dec 22, 2014
Publication Date Dec 22, 2014
Deposit Date Jun 16, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jun 16, 2016
Journal PLoS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 12
Article Number e114979
Public URL
Publisher URL


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