New Publication: Does intraspecific competition promote variation?

19 February 2016

Andrew Jones and David Post have published a paper that tests the long-standing assumption that increasing intraspecific competition promotes population niche expansion, and is therefore an important driver of adaptive diversification. Using data from several study systems, Jones and Post found that increasing intraspecific competition had a restricting effect on population niche width in as many cases as it had a diversifying effect. This effect of competition on consumer niche variation was negatively related to the strength of resource depletion by the consumer. The findings call into question a long-standing assumption of basic evolutionary models and lend support to recent theoretical predictions that competition is primarily diversifying for species with a small effect (per unit biomass) on their resources and that resource depletion limits the diversifying effect of competition for consumers with larger ecological effects.

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