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Intransitive competition is common across five major taxonomic groups and is driven by productivity, competitive rank and functional traits


Soliveres, Santiago; Lehmann, Anika; Boch, Steffen; Altermatt, Florian; Carrara, Francesco; Crowther, Thomas W; Delgado-Baquerizo, Manuel; Kempel, Anne; Maynard, Daniel S; Rillig, Matthias C; Singh, Brajesh K; Trivedi, Pankaj; Allan, Eric (2018). Intransitive competition is common across five major taxonomic groups and is driven by productivity, competitive rank and functional traits. Journal of Ecology, 106(3):852-864.

Abstract

1. Competition can be fully hierarchical or intransitive, and this degree of hierarchy is driven by multiple factors, including environmental conditions, the functional traits of the species involved or the topology of competition networks. Studies simultaneously analysing these drivers of competition hierarchy are rare. Additionally, organisms compete either directly or via interference competition for resources or space, within a local neighbourhood or across the habitat. Therefore, the drivers of competition could change accordingly and depend on the taxa studied.
2. We performed the first multi-taxon study on pairwise competition across major taxonomic groups, including experiments with vascular plants, mosses, saprobic fungi, aquatic protists and soil bacteria. We evaluated how general is competition intransitivity from the pairwise competition matrix including all species and also for each possible three-species combination (triplets). We then examined which species were likely to engage in competitive loops and the effects of environmen- tal conditions, competitive rank and functional traits on intransitive competition.
3. We found some degree of competition intransitivity in all taxa studied, with 38% to 5% of triplets being intransitive. Variance in competitive rank between species and more fertile conditions strongly reduced intransitivity, with triplets composed of species differing widely in their competitive ranks much less likely to be intransitive.

Abstract

1. Competition can be fully hierarchical or intransitive, and this degree of hierarchy is driven by multiple factors, including environmental conditions, the functional traits of the species involved or the topology of competition networks. Studies simultaneously analysing these drivers of competition hierarchy are rare. Additionally, organisms compete either directly or via interference competition for resources or space, within a local neighbourhood or across the habitat. Therefore, the drivers of competition could change accordingly and depend on the taxa studied.
2. We performed the first multi-taxon study on pairwise competition across major taxonomic groups, including experiments with vascular plants, mosses, saprobic fungi, aquatic protists and soil bacteria. We evaluated how general is competition intransitivity from the pairwise competition matrix including all species and also for each possible three-species combination (triplets). We then examined which species were likely to engage in competitive loops and the effects of environmen- tal conditions, competitive rank and functional traits on intransitive competition.
3. We found some degree of competition intransitivity in all taxa studied, with 38% to 5% of triplets being intransitive. Variance in competitive rank between species and more fertile conditions strongly reduced intransitivity, with triplets composed of species differing widely in their competitive ranks much less likely to be intransitive.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Physical Sciences > Ecology
Life Sciences > Plant Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:bacteria, bryophytes, competition hierarchy, functional traits, protists, rock–paper–scissors, saprobic fungi, vascular plants
Language:English
Date:1 May 2018
Deposited On:11 Jan 2019 13:37
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 08:58
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0022-0477
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.12959
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDPP00P3_150698
  • : Project TitleBridging biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in dendritic networks: a meta-ecosystem perspective
  • : FunderH2020
  • : Grant ID702057
  • : Project TitleCLIMIFUN - Climatic and temporal control on microbial diversity-ecosystem functioning: insights from a novel conceptual model (CLIMIFUN).

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