White Rose University Consortium logo
University of Leeds logo University of Sheffield logo York University logo

Coexistence and relative abundance in annual plant assemblages: The roles of competition and colonization

Levine, J.M. and Rees, M. (2002) Coexistence and relative abundance in annual plant assemblages: The roles of competition and colonization. American Naturalist, 160 (4). pp. 452-467. ISSN 0003-0147


Download (234Kb)


Although an interspecific trade-off between competitive and colonizing ability can permit multispecies coexistence, whether this mechanism controls the structure of natural systems remains unresolved. We used models to evaluate the hypothesized importance of this trade-off for explaining coexistence and relative abundance patterns in annual plant assemblages. In a nonspatial model, empirically derived competition-colonization trade-offs related to seed mass were insufficient to generate coexistence. This was unchanged by spatial structure or interspecific variation in the fraction of seeds dispersing globally. These results differ from those of the more generalized competition-colonization models because the latter assume completely asymmetric competition, an assumption that appears unrealistic considering existing data for annual systems. When, for heuristic purposes, completely asymmetric competition was incorporated into our models, unlimited coexistence was possible. However, in the resulting abundance patterns, the best competitors/poorest colonizers were the most abundant, the opposite of that observed in natural systems. By contrast, these natural patterns were produced by competition-colonization models where environmental heterogeneity permitted species coexistence. Thus, despite the failure of the simple competition-colonization trade-off to explain coexistence in annual plant systems, this trade-off may be essential to explaining relative abundance patterns when other processes permit coexistence.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2002 by The University of Chicago. Reproduced in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Keywords: annual plants, colonization, competition, coexistence, niche
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Biological Sciences (Sheffield) > Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2014 21:52
Published Version: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AN/journal/issues...
Status: Published
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1398

Actions (repository staff only: login required)