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Trends Ecol Evol. 1991 Jan;6(1):26-8. doi: 10.1016/0169-5347(91)90144-M.

A need for niches?

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Ecosystem Dynamics Group, Research School of Biological Sciences, The Australian National University, GPO Box 475, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.


The idea that different species must have distinct ecologies if they are to coexist has been challenged recently by the claim that some models involving stochastic factors or clumped spatial distributions permit stable coexistence of species that are identical or differ only in competitive ability. However, these models have been misinterpreted; except in rather limited circumstances, they provide further support for the notion that species must be sufficiently ecologically distinct to coexist stably. The possible, limited, exceptions to this rule involve social factors by which individuals of a species discriminate between heterospecifics and conspecifics without there being any true ecological differences between species.

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