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  1. Abstract

    To understand the mechanisms underlying species coexistence, ecologists often study invasion growth rates of theoretical and data-driven models. These growth rates correspond to average per-capita growth rates of one species with respect to an ergodic measure supporting other species. In the ecological literature, coexistence often is equated with the invasion growth rates being positive. Intuitively, positive invasion growth rates ensure that species recover from being rare. To provide a mathematically rigorous framework for this approach, we prove theorems that answer two questions: (i) When do the signs of the invasion growth rates determine coexistence? (ii) When signs are sufficient, which invasion growth rates need to be positive? We focus on deterministic models and equate coexistence with permanence, i.e., a global attractor bounded away from extinction. For models satisfying certain technical assumptions, we introduce invasion graphs where vertices correspond to proper subsets of species (communities) supporting an ergodic measure and directed edges correspond to potential transitions between communities due to invasions by missing species. These directed edges are determined by the signs of invasion growth rates. When the invasion graph is acyclic (i.e. there is no sequence of invasions starting and ending at the same community), we show that permanencemore »is determined by the signs of the invasion growth rates. In this case, permanence is characterized by the invasibility of all$$-i$$-icommunities, i.e., communities without speciesiwhere all other missing species have negative invasion growth rates. To illustrate the applicability of the results, we show that dissipative Lotka-Volterra models generically satisfy our technical assumptions and computing their invasion graphs reduces to solving systems of linear equations. We also apply our results to models of competing species with pulsed resources or sharing a predator that exhibits switching behavior. Open problems for both deterministic and stochastic models are discussed. Our results highlight the importance of using concepts about community assembly to study coexistence.

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  2. For species primarily regulated by a common predator, the P * rule of Holt & Lawton (Holt & Lawton, 1993. Am. Nat. 142 , 623–645. ( doi:10.1086/285561 )) predicts that the prey species that supports the highest mean predator density ( P *) excludes the other prey species. This prediction is re-examined in the presence of temporal fluctuations in the vital rates of the interacting species including predator attack rates. When the fluctuations in predator attack rates are temporally uncorrelated, the P * rule still holds even when the other vital rates are temporally auto-correlated. However, when temporal auto-correlations in attack rates are positive but not too strong, the prey species can coexist due to the emergence of a positive covariance between predator density and prey vulnerability. This coexistence mechanism is similar to the storage effect for species regulated by a common resource. Negative or strongly positive auto-correlations in attack rates generate a negative covariance between predator density and prey vulnerability and a stochastic priority effect can emerge: with non-zero probability either prey species is excluded. These results highlight how temporally auto-correlated species’ interaction rates impact the structure and dynamics of ecological communities.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 12, 2023
  4. Many plant species worldwide are dispersed by scatter-hoarding granivores: animals that hide seeds in numerous, small caches for future consumption. Yet, the evolution of scatter-hoarding is difficult to explain because undefended caches are at high risk of pilferage. Previous models have attempted to solve this problem by giving cache owners large advantages in cache recovery, by kin selection, or by introducing reciprocal pilferage of ‘shared’ seed resources. However, the role of environmental variability has been so far overlooked in this context. One important form of such variability is masting, which is displayed by many plant species dispersed by scatterhoarders. We use a mathematical model to investigate the influence of masting on the evolution of scatter-hoarding. The model accounts for periodically varying annual seed fall, caching and pilfering behaviour, and the demography of scatterhoarders. The parameter values are based mostly on research on European beech ( Fagus sylvatica ) and yellow-necked mice ( Apodemus flavicollis ). Starvation of scatterhoarders between mast years decreases the population density that enters masting events, which leads to reduced seed pilferage. Satiation of scatterhoarders during mast events lowers the reproductive cost of caching (i.e. the cost of caching for the future rather than using seeds formore »current reproduction). These reductions promote the evolution of scatter-hoarding behaviour especially when interannual variation in seed fall and the period between masting events are large. This article is part of the theme issue ‘The ecology and evolution of synchronized seed production in plants’.« less
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 8, 2023
  6. Coulson, Tim (Ed.)