Direct and indirect effects of toxins on competition dynamics of species in an aquatic environment
- 189 Downloads
When two competing species are simultaneously exposed in a polluted environment, one species may be more vulnerable to toxins than the other. To study the impact of environmental toxins on competition dynamics of two species, we develop a toxin-dependent competition model that incorporates both direct and indirect toxic effects on the species. The direct effects of toxins typically reduce population abundance by increasing mortality and reducing reproduction. However, the indirect effects, which are mediated through competitive interactions, may lead to counterintuitive effects. We investigate the toxin-dependent competition model and explore the impact of the interplay between environmental toxins and distinct toxic tolerance of two species on the competition outcomes. The results of theoretical analysis and numerical studies reveal that while high level of toxins is harmful to both species, possibly leading to extirpation of both species, intermediate level of toxins, plus different vulnerabilities of two species to toxins, affect competition outcomes in many counterintuitive ways. It turns out that sublethal toxins may boost coexistence of two species (hence keep species diversity in ecosystems) by reducing the abundance of the predominant species; sublethal toxins may overturn and exchange roles of winner and loser in competition; sublethal toxins may also induce different types of bistability of the competition dynamics, where the competition outcome is doomed to exclusion or coexistence, depending on initial population densities. The theory developed here provides a sound foundation for understanding competitive interactions between two species in a polluted aquatic environment.
KeywordsToxin Competition Fast-slow dynamics Coexistence Exclusion Bistability
Mathematics Subject Classification92Bxx 37N25 34C23
The authors thank Gunog Seo (Colgate University) for fruitful discussions. The authors gratefully acknowledge two anonymous referees for careful reading and insightful comments which greatly improve the manuscript.
- CCME (2003) The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Canadian water quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic life: guidance on the site-specific application of water quality guidelines in Canada: procedures for deriving numerical water quality objectives. http://ceqg-rcqe.ccme.ca/download/en/221
- Cody ML, Diamond JM (1975) Ecology and evolution of communities. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Schoener TW (1982) The controversy over interspecific competition: despite spirited criticism, competition continues to occupy a major domain in ecological thought. Am Sci 70:586–595Google Scholar
- Smith H (1995) Monotone dynamical systems. An introduction to the theory of competitive and cooperative systems. Mathematical surveys and monographs, vol 41. American Mathematical Society, ProvidenceGoogle Scholar
- USNARA (2013) US national archives and records administration, code of federal regulations, title 40-protection of environment, Appendix A to part 423–126 priority pollutantsGoogle Scholar