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  1. Mitri, Sara (Ed.)
    The persistence of virtually every single species depends on both the presence of other species and the specific environmental conditions in a given location. Because in natural settings many of these conditions are unknown, research has been centered on finding the fraction of possible conditions (probability) leading to species coexistence. The focus has been on the persistence probability of an entire multispecies community (formed of either two or more species). However, the methodological and philosophical question has always been whether we can observe the entire community and, if not, what the conditions are under which an observed subset of the community can persist as part of a larger multispecies system. Here, we derive long-term (using analytical calculations) and short-term (using simulations and experimental data) system-level indicators of the effect of third-party species on the coexistence probability of a pair (or subset) of species under unknown environmental conditions. We demonstrate that the fraction of conditions incompatible with the possible coexistence of a pair of species tends to become vanishingly small within systems of increasing numbers of species. Yet, the probability of pairwise coexistence in isolation remains approximately the expected probability of pairwise coexistence in more diverse assemblages. In addition, we found that when third-party species tend to reduce (resp. increase) the coexistence probability of a pair, they tend to exhibit slower (resp. faster) rates of competitive exclusion. Long-term and short-term effects of the remaining third-party species on all possible specific pairs in a system are not equally distributed, but these differences can be mapped and anticipated under environmental uncertainty. 
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