Reduction of species coexistence through mixing in a spatial competition model


Many ecological systems exhibit self-organized spatial patterns due to local interactions. Such patterns can promote species diversity and therefore serve as an important mechanism for biodiversity maintenance. Previous work has shown that when species interactions occurred at local spatial scales, species diversity was greatest when robust mosaic spatial patterns formed. Also, intransitive interactions led to the emergence of spiral patterns, frequently resulting in multispecies coexistence. In some instances, intransitive interactions reduced species diversity as the consequence of competitive hierarchies. Here, we extend and broaden this line of investigation and examine the role of global competition along a continuum ranging from spatial mosaics to spiral patterns. While previous models have predicted that species diversity is reduced when interactions occur over larger spatial scales, our model considers the effects of various levels of mixing on species diversity, in the context of various network structures as measured by the covariance of row and column sums of the competition matrix. First, we compare local competition (unmixed system) versus global competition (mixed systems) and show that greater species diversity is maintained under a positive covariance. Second, we show that under various levels of mixing, species diversity declines more rapidly under a negative covariance. Lastly, we demonstrate that time to extinction in our model occurs much more rapidly under a negative covariance.

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Correspondence to Senay Yitbarek.

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Yitbarek, S., Vandermeer, J.H. Reduction of species coexistence through mixing in a spatial competition model. Theor Ecol 10, 443–450 (2017).

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  • Spatial self-organization
  • Cellular automata
  • Coexistence
  • Biodiversity