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The Prerequisites for and Likelihood of Generalist‐Specialist Coexistence
Peter A. Abrams
The American Naturalist
Vol. 167, No. 3 (March 2006), pp. 329-342
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/499382
Page Count: 14
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Abstract: Mathematical models of three‐consumer‐two‐resource systems are used to explore the possibility of coexistence when one consumer is a generalist utilizing both resources, and the other two are specialists utilizing only one. Such coexistence requires strongly saturating functional or numerical responses in at least one consumer and the presence of sustained asynchronous variation in resource abundances. Given these conditions, the effects of three dichotomous factors on the range of parameters allowing coexistence are examined: flexible versus inflexible resource choice by the generalist, endogenous or exogenous cause of resource cycles, and location of the two resources in a single habitat versus two habitats. Coexistence of all three species is found to be possible for all combinations of these factors except for inflexible choice in a two‐habitat environment. Generalists experience frequency‐dependent fitness because, when they are abundant, they synchronize resource cycles and/or reduce their amplitude. When the generalist can adaptively adjust its relative foraging on the two resources, coexistence conditions are broadened considerably, and coexistence commonly occurs readily with exogenous variation in resource growth and with resources located in distinct habitats. Adaptive behavior increases the generalist’s ability to both synchronize and dampen resource cycles.
© 2006 by The University of Chicago.