, Volume 170, Issue 1, pp 135-145

Asymmetric competition as a natural outcome of neighbour interactions among plants: results from the field-of-neighbourhood modelling approach

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Abstract

Numerous attempts have been made to infer the mode of competition from size or biomass distributions of plant cohorts. However, since the relationship between mode of competition and size distributions may be obscured by a variety of factors such as spatial configuration, density or resource level, empirical investigations often produce ambiguous results. Likewise, the findings of theoretical analyses of asymmetric competition are equivocal. In this paper, we analyse the mode of competition in an individual-based model which is based on the new field-of-neighbourhood approach. In this approach, plants have a zone of influence that determines the distance up to which neighbours are influenced. Additionally, a superimposed field within the zone of influence defines phenomenologically the strength of influence of an individual on neighbouring plants. We investigated competition at both individual and population level and characterised the influence of density and of the shape of the field-of-neighbourhood on occurrence and degree of competitive asymmetry. After finding asymmetric competition emerging in all scenarios, we argue that asymmetric competition is a natural consequence of local competition among neighbouring plants.