Examining the relative importance of spatial and nonspatial coexistence mechanisms.

Robin E. Snyder, Elizabeth T. Borer, Peter Chesson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Much of the work on species coexistence has focused on the presence or absence of single mechanisms. Most theoretical frameworks, however, do not allow one to measure the strength of coexistence mechanisms, and so it has been difficult to determine the relative importance of each mechanism when multiple mechanisms are present. We present a model inspired by the California red scale system, in which two parasitoids coexist on a single, tree-dwelling host-scale insect. Previous work suggests that coexistence may be promoted both by intraguild predation (IGP) and by differing preferences for hosts on stems versus hosts on leaves (habitat preference). By applying an analytic framework that quantifies the strengths of spatial coexistence mechanisms, we are able to measure the individual contributions of IGP, habitat preference, and their interaction to maintaining coexistence. We find that habitat preference is much more effective at promoting coexistence in this model than in IGP. Furthermore, the effects of habitat preference and IGP are not independent. When the two parasitoids prefer different habitats, the coexistence-promoting effects of habitat preference are strengthened by IGP if IGP gives a moderate advantage to the inferior competitor. If IGP either confers an excessive advantage or favors the superior competitor, it can diminish the coexistence region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E75-94
JournalThe American naturalist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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