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Revista chilena de historia natural

versión impresa ISSN 0716-078X


GORDON, CALEB E.. The coexistence of species La coexistencia de especies. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2000, vol.73, n.1, pp.175-198. ISSN 0716-078X.

This paper is a critical literature review on the topic of the coexistence of similar species within ecological communities. A conceptual framework is provided for dividing coexistence studies and concepts into three distinct time scales. The first six sections deal primarily with ecological-scale, or mesoscale coexistence, defined as coexistence in the classic sense of the competitive exclusion principle and Lotka-Volterra models, wherein interacting populations have had enough time to reach equilibrium. The first four sections briefly review resource partitioning studies and competitive coexistence models, and discuss the relative contributions of, and interaction between empirical and theoretical approaches to the problem of ecological-scale coexistence. The next two sections discuss the importance of biological trade-offs and the role of competition in structuring ecological communities. Based on compelling empirical evidence on both sides of the competition debate, a view of competition's role in structuring communities is proposed wherein the effects of competition are important but incomplete. The next section briefly reviews coexistence as it has been incorporated into habitat selection models, which represents coexistence at a finer time scale generated by the behavioral decisions of individual organisms. Linkages between this type of coexistence and mesoscale coexistence are discussed. Finally, a larger scale of coexistence is explored in which the assumptions of fixed niches, habitats, and species pools in communities are relaxed. This section links global and evolutionary species diversity literature to mesoscale ecological coexistence, focusing on the effects of ecosystem productivity and province size. Factors that govern diversity at large scales may be used to calibrate expectations and make predictions about mesoscale coexistence within particular communities. The study of diversity dynamics at geologic time scales suggests some sort of competitive saturation process, yet community dynamics on the scale of glacial oscillations often appear unsaturated and non-equilibrial. This provides additional support for the idea that competition has an important, but only partial structuring effect on biological communities. Because coexistence is affected by competitive as well as non-competitive influences, both must be incorporated to develop accurate models, make useful predictions, and gain fuller understanding of the coexistence of species within ecological communities

Palabras clave : coexistence; competition; community structure; resource partitioning; niche.

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