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Does Competition between Resources Change the Competition between Their Consumers to Mutualism? Variations on Two Themes by Vandermeer

Peter A. Abrams and Mifuyu Nakajima
The American Naturalist
Vol. 170, No. 5 (November 2007), pp. 744-757
DOI: 10.1086/522056
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/522056
Page Count: 14
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Does Competition between Resources Change the Competition between Their Consumers to Mutualism? Variations on Two Themes by Vandermeer
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Abstract

Abstract: How does competition between resources affect the interaction between consumer species that share those resources? Existing theory suggests that high resource competition can lead to mutualism. However, this is based on an analysis that need only apply near equilibrium, and experimental demonstrations of such mutualism are rare. Two alternative approaches to measuring food web mutualism are examined here. These are based on the population‐level effects of adding or removing a consumer species or on the amount of additional mortality that can be applied to one consumer without excluding it. Both measures suggest that mutualism is likely to be confined to two situations: when overlap in resource use by the consumers is very low and when the consumers are inefficient users of their resources. Competition between resources is also likely to increase the occurrence and magnitude of “hypercompetition” between consumers, where the reduction in population size caused by the introduced consumer is greater than that caused by a consumer that is identical to the resident species. Competition between resources can also increase the negative interaction between consumers by destabilizing the dynamics of the system. Such destabilization can cause negative indirect interactions between specialist consumers having no overlap in resource use.

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