Niche partitioning and stochastic processes shape community structure following whitefly invasions

David W. Crowder, A. Rami Horowitz, Haggai Breslauer, Mario Rippa, Svetlana Kontsedalov, Murad Ghanim, Yves Carrière

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


One of the most detrimental impacts of invasive species is the exclusion of native species, which reduces biodiversity and can alter community structure. Coexistence between invaders and native species across large scales, however, might be promoted by niche partitioning and/or stochastic processes, even when one species is excluded in some habitats. Here, we examined the effects of species traits, stochastic processes, and niche partitioning on coexistence of two morphocryptic whitefly species in the Bemisia tabaci complex: the invasive Mediterranean (MED) species and the native Middle East-Asia Minor 1 (MEAM1) species. These species engage in intense reproductive interference, which can result in the exclusion of one species or the other in shared habitats. Both species, however, have coexisted in sympatry in Israel for many years, where MED is invasive and MEAM1 is native. Using a spatially explicit model, we show that both stochastic processes and niche partitioning can promote coexistence between MEAM1 and MED, although predicted community structure differs drastically in each scenario. Comparison of field observations with model results indicated that variation in habitat use leading to niche partitioning was a primary factor driving coexistence between MEAM1 and MED across landscapes, although stochastic processes affected the establishment of rare species within habitats. In many systems, combining models with field surveys can be used to isolate and test mechanisms underlying patterns of community structure following invasions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-694
Number of pages10
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Agricultural ecosystems
  • Biological invasions
  • Coexistence
  • Community ecology
  • Habitat heterogeneity
  • Stochastic modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Niche partitioning and stochastic processes shape community structure following whitefly invasions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this