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Oecologia. 2016 Dec;182(4):1063-1074. Epub 2016 Sep 21.

Inter-class competition in stage-structured populations: effects of adult density on life-history traits of adult and juvenile common lizards.

Author information

1
Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Le Biophore, 1015, Lausanne, Switzerland. luis.sanjosegarcia@unil.ch.
2
Department of Biogeography and Global Change, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (MNCN, CSIC), José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, 28006, Madrid, Spain.
3
Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610, Antwerp, Belgium.
4
Department of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (MNCN, CSIC), José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, 28006, Madrid, Spain.
5
Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología (MNCN, CSIC), Ntra. Señora de la Victoria, 22700, Jaca, Spain.
6
Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Le Biophore, 1015, Lausanne, Switzerland.
7
Fundación Araid, Edificio CEEI Aragón, María de Luna 11, 50018, Zaragoza, Spain.

Abstract

Ecological and evolutionary processes in natural populations are largely influenced by the population's stage-structure. Commonly, different classes have different competitive abilities, e.g., due to differences in body size, suggesting that inter-class competition may be important and largely asymmetric. However, experimental evidence states that inter-class competition, which is important, is rare and restricted to marine fish. Here, we manipulated the adult density in six semi-natural populations of the European common lizard, Zootoca vivipara, while holding juvenile density constant. Adult density affected juveniles, but not adults, in line with inter-class competition. High adult density led to lower juvenile survival and growth before hibernation. In contrast, juvenile survival after hibernation was higher in populations with high adult density, pointing to relaxed inter-class competition. As a result, annual survival was not affected by adult density, showing that differences in pre- and post-hibernation survival balanced each other out. The intensity of inter-class competition affected reproduction, performance, and body size in juveniles. Path analyses unravelled direct treatment effects on early growth (pre-hibernation) and no direct treatment effects on the parameters measured after hibernation. This points to allometry of treatment-induced differences in early growth, and it suggests that inter-class competition mainly affects the early growth of the competitively inferior class and thereby their future performance and reproduction. These results are in contrast with previous findings and, together with results in marine fish, suggest that the strength and direction of density dependence may depend on the degree of inter-class competition, and thus on the availability of resources used by the competing classes.

KEYWORDS:

Density-dependence; Experimental populations; Inter-class competition; Intra-class competition; Population dynamics

PMID:
27655331
DOI:
10.1007/s00442-016-3738-7
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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