Authors: J. Fox and C. Barreto 1
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  • 1 Imperial College NERC Centre for Population Biology Silwood Park Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY United Kingdom
  • | 2 University of Calgary Department of Biological Sciences 2500 University Drive NW Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4 Canada
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Competing species often coexist, but the mechanisms allowing long-term coexistence are rarely tested via direct experimental manipulation. We experimentally tested the mechanisms of coexistence in a classic model system, laboratory microcosms in which two species of ciliate protists competed for bacteria. Previous work shows that the species used here compete for bacteria, but can coexist despite large differences in grazing ability. We tested three hypotheses that might explain this surprising coexistence: resource partitioning, chemically-mediated interference competition, and differential use of space. To test for resource partitioning, we conducted an experiment testing the effects of bacterial species richness and composition on the long-term outcome of competition. Manipulating bacterial diversity and composition alters the scope for resource partitioning. Despite strong evidence for differential resource use (e.g., the two ciliates shifted bacterial species composition in different ways), initial bacterial richness and composition did not affect the long-term outcome of competition. Remarkably, the competitive outcome was unchanged even when ciliates competed for a single bacterial species, indicating that the observed resource partitioning is irrelevant to the competitive outcome. In further experiments, we ruled out differential space use and chemically-mediated interference competition as explanations for this surprising coexistence. Coexistence of ciliates on a single bacterial species might reflect partitioning of intraspecific bacterial diversity, and/or osmotrophy or consumption of particulate detritus by the weaker competitor. The results show that this classic model system is not as well-understood as had been previously thought. More broadly, the results dramatically illustrate that merely observing “niche differences” between coexisting species is no evidence that those differences are either necessary or sufficient for long-term coexistence.

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Senior editors

Editor(s)-in-Chief: Podani, János

Editor(s)-in-Chief: Jordán, Ferenc

Honorary Editor(s): Orlóci, László

Editorial Board

  • Madhur Anand, CAN (forest ecology, computational ecology, and ecological complexity)
  • S. Bagella, ITA (temporal dynamics, including succession, community level patterns of species richness and diversity, experimental studies of plant, animal and microbial communities, plant communities of the Mediterranean)
  • P. Batáry, HUN (landscape ecology, agroecology, ecosystem services)
  • P. A. V. Borges, PRT (community level patterns of species richness and diversity, sampling in theory and practice)
  • A. Davis, GER (supervised learning, multitrophic interactions, food webs, multivariate analysis, ecological statistics, experimental design, fractals, parasitoids, species diversity, community assembly, ticks, biodiversity, climate change, biological networks, cranes, olfactometry, evolution)
  • Z. Elek, HUN (insect ecology, invertebrate conservation, population dynamics, especially of long-term field studies, insect sampling)
  • T. Kalapos, HUN (community level plant ecophysiology, grassland ecology, vegetation-soil relationship)
  • G. M. Kovács, HUN (microbial ecology, plant-fungus interactions, mycorrhizas)
  • W. C. Liu,TWN (community-based ecological theory and modelling issues, temporal dynamics, including succession, trophic interactions, competition, species response to the environment)
  • L. Mucina, AUS (vegetation survey, syntaxonomy, evolutionary community ecology, assembly rules, global vegetation patterns, mediterranean ecology)
  • P. Ódor, HUN (plant communities, bryophyte ecology, numerical methods)
  • F. Rigal, FRA (island biogeography, macroecology, functional diversity, arthropod ecology)
  • D. Rocchini, ITA (biodiversity, multiple scales, spatial scales, species distribution, spatial ecology, remote sensing, ecological informatics, computational ecology)
  • F. Samu, HUN (landscape ecology, biological control, generalist predators, spiders, arthropods, conservation biology, sampling methods)
  • U. Scharler, ZAF (ecological networks, food webs, estuaries, marine, mangroves, stoichiometry, temperate, subtropical)
  • D. Schmera, HUN (aquatic communities, functional diversity, ecological theory)
  • M. Scotti, GER (community-based ecological theory and modelling issues, trophic interactions, competition, species response to the environment, ecological networks)
  • B. Tóthmérész, HUN (biodiversity, soil zoology, spatial models, macroecology, ecological modeling)
  • S. Wollrab, GER (aquatic ecology, food web dynamics, plankton ecology, predator-prey interactions)

 

Advisory Board

  • S. Bartha, HUN
  • S.L. Collins, USA
  • T. Czárán, HUN
  • E. Feoli, ITA
  • N. Kenkel, CAN
  • J. Lepš, CZE
  • S. Mazzoleni, ITA
  • Cs. Moskát, HUN
  • B. Oborny, HUN
  • M.W. Palmer, USA
  • G.P. Patil, USA
  • V. de Patta Pillar, BRA
  • C. Ricotta, ITA
  • Á. Szentesi, HUN

PODANI, JÁNOS
E-mail: podani@ludens.elte.hu


JORDÁN, FERENC
E-mail: jordan.ferenc@gmail.com

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Community Ecology
Language English
Size A4
Year of
Foundation
2000
Volumes
per Year
1
Issues
per Year
2
Founder Akadémiai Kiadó
Founder's
Address
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245
Publisher Akadémiai Kiadó
Springer Nature Switzerland AG
Publisher's
Address
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
CH-6330 Cham, Switzerland Gewerbestrasse 11.
Responsible
Publisher
Chief Executive Officer, Akadémiai Kiadó
ISSN 1585-8553 (Print)
ISSN 1588-2756 (Online)