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Oscar Godoy (University of Cádiz, Spain)

April 25, 2019 @ 13:00 - 14:00

Title: Functional and multitrophic mechanisms of species coexistence

Abstract: Ecologists have been investigating for decades the mechanisms that maintain the diversity of species within ecological communities. In particular, several functional traits and interactions with mutualists have been thought to promote the stabilizing effect of niche differences on population dynamics of competing species. These effects occur because higher intraspecific compared to interspecific competition limits species abundance when they are common yet buffer them again extinction when they are rare. Recent advances in coexistence theory have now the opportunity to rigorously evaluate such relationships by coupling experimental and observational approaches to species population models, and surprisingly, they are showing a much more complex mapping that previously thought. As an example, most of the plant functional traits widely measured in the literature does not provide a demographic signature of niche differences, instead, they promote competitive imbalances between species that lead to competitive exclusion. Only traits and phenotypic plasticity related to light and water use efficiency promote niche partitioning between species. In a similar fashion, multitrophic interactions that plant species establish with floral visitors are an equalising rather than a stabilizing, which promote species coexistence by decreasing the competitive ability of superior competitors and increase that of inferior competitors. Although the examples I will provide are mostly for plant species, the underlying ecological mechanisms are common to any taxa type, so I expect a fruitful discussion of how these ideas and experiments can be extended to other ecological systems.


April 25, 2019
13:00 - 14:00
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