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Theor Popul Biol. 1986 Feb;29(1):107-60.

Character displacement and niche shift analyzed using consumer-resource models of competition.


This paper analyzes the adaptive responses to competition (both character displacement and niche shift) in a two consumer-two resource model. The model includes density dependence that is unrelated to the resources that are explicit in the model. This could be due to another resource dimension, parasites, or interference competition. Competitors adapt by changing their relative consumption rate constants on the two resource types. This model can result in mutually divergent, parallel, or mutually convergent displacement of competitors. Parallel displacement may entail net divergence, net convergence, or no net change. Parallel change with net convergence is most likely when the competitors have similar constraints on the possible values of consumption rate constants, unequal allopatric abundances, and significant intraspecific density dependence. Numerical calculations of displacements are presented for several models and the effect of a number of different possible alterations of the model are discussed. The evolution of resource handling and processing efficiency, and displacement in the presence of additional selective pressures on the character are considered in detail. The results have implications for questions about maximization of population size, the relationship of character displacement and the competition coefficient, and "null" models in the study of competition. Differences between this and previous theoretical works are discussed. It is argued that conditions allowing parallel or convergent displacement are not biologically unlikely, and possible examples are discussed. Data on resource partitioning seem to be more consistent with the results reached here than with previous theory.

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