Article

Trade-offs and coexistence in fluctuating environments: evidence for a key dispersal-fecundity trade-off in five nonpollinating fig wasps

Citation

Duthie AB, Abbott K & Nason J (2015) Trade-offs and coexistence in fluctuating environments: evidence for a key dispersal-fecundity trade-off in five nonpollinating fig wasps. American Naturalist, 186 (1), pp. 151-158. www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/681621; https://doi.org/10.1086/681621

Abstract
The ecological principle of competitive exclusion states that species competing for identical resources cannot coexist, but this principle is paradoxical because ecologically similar competitors are regularly observed. Coexistence is possible under some conditions if a fluctuating environment changes the competitive dominance of species. This change in competitive dominance implies the existence of trade-offs underlying species’ competitive abilities in different environments. Theory shows that fluctuating distance between resource patches can facilitate coexistence in ephemeral patch competitors, given a functional trade-off between species dispersal ability and fecundity. We find evidence supporting this trade-off in a guild of five ecologically similar nonpollinating fig wasps and subsequently predict local among-patch species densities. We also introduce a novel colonization index to estimate relative dispersal ability among ephemeral patch competitors. We suggest that a dispersal ability–fecundity trade-off and spatiotemporally fluctuating resource availability commonly co-occur to drive population dynamics and facilitate coexistence in ephemeral patch communities.

Keywords
coexistence; ephemeral patch; competition; trade-offs; Ficus; dispersal; fig wasp

Journal
American Naturalist: Volume 186, Issue 1

StatusPublished
Publication date31/07/2015
Publication date online06/05/2015
Date accepted by journal16/02/2015
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/24582
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
Publisher URLwww.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/681621
ISSN0003-0147