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Selection for restraint in competitive ability in spatial competition systems


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Johnson, CR and Seinen, I 2002 , 'Selection for restraint in competitive ability in spatial competition systems' , Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B, vol. 269, no. 1492 , pp. 655-663 , doi: 10.1098/rspb.2001.1948.

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The absence of 'super competitors' in nature is usually attributed to organisms facing trade-offs in resource
allocation. Here we identify another mechanism, dependent on indirect interactions among species and
non-random spatial organization, in which selection favours restraint in competitive ability. In simple
spatial models of a three-species intransitive network, indirect interactions favour slower growth and selection
limits the difference in growth rate among species. The mechanism involves a trade-off between
selection at the individual level, which selects for increased growth rate, and at the community level,
which acts to limit growth rate to less than the maximum possible. If the difference in growth rates among
species becomes too large, then the community becomes unstable and collapses to a monoculture of the
slowest growing species. The mechanism requires both the intransitive network structure and selforganized
spatial structure in the system. Similar behaviours arise in more complex systems of more than
three species, and where there are reversals in interaction outcomes between species pairs. The work
suggests that spatial self-structuring, indirect interactions and selection acting on community properties
can be important in evolution. It provides a partial explanation of the high level of species coexistence
and apparent restraint in interspecific interactions evident in some assemblages of sessile marine colonial

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Johnson, CR and Seinen, I
Keywords: Competition; indirect interactions; spatial self-structuring; coexistence; community-level selection; cellular automata
Journal or Publication Title: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B
DOI / ID Number: 10.1098/rspb.2001.1948
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