Simulation of responses of community structure to species interactions driven by phenotypic change

TitleSimulation of responses of community structure to species interactions driven by phenotypic change
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsDodds, WK, Henebry, GM
JournalEcological Modelling
Pagination85 -94
Accession NumberKNZ00484
KeywordsCompetition, interspecific, mutualism, networks, Species interactions

We developed a community model which considers the effect of phenotype on species interaction in order to elucidate general relationships between phenotype, species interactions and community structure. The model consists of community matrices with density-dependent species interactions and a limit on the total population of each species. A general natural pattern forms the basis of the model: organisms which are most similar compete, those which are less similar may enter into a predator-prey relationship, and those which are most different may be mutualistic. In this model, contrary to some previously published studies, increasing the number of species increased stability of community matrices. The rate of change in phenotype was varied to assess the response of community characteristics. At the highest rate of random phenotypic change there were the most species; the minimum number of species was found at intermediate rates of change. The models were run in the absence of predation, competition, or mutualism. The absence of mutualism led to more extinction. The absence of competition caused communities to quickly reach a population ceiling. Results suggest that it is extremely important to understand the relative occurrence of mutualism and competition in natural communities. Furthermore, the rate of phenotypic change could be an important but subtle determinant of community structure.