Journal of Genetics

, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 33-47

First online:

Can a single resource support many consumer species ?

  • Sulochana GadgilAffiliated withCentre for Theoretical Studies, Indian Institute of Science
  • , Madhav GadgilAffiliated withCentre for Theoretical Studies, Indian Institute of Science

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The conclusion that the number of species co-existing within a biological community cannot exceed the number of limiting factors is not valid if we assume that (i) the relative efficiency of two competing species in utilizing a resource is not independent of the resource density, but one species may be more efficient at a lower density and less efficient at a higher density and (ii) there is a spatial or temporal heterogeneity in the density of the resource. This spatial or temporal heterogeneity does not have to be furnished by factors external to the biological community, but may be generated within the biological community itself as in the case of a vertical gradient of light in a plant community. This possibility of a stable co-existence of more than one species in a community limited by a single resource, even when the resource is being supplied uniformly in space and time, is formally demonstrated.