Positive interactions, discontinuous transitions and species coexistence in plant communities. uri icon

abstract

  • The population and community level consequences of positive interactions between plants remain poorly explored. In this study we incorporate positive resource-mediated interactions in classic resource competition theory and investigate the main consequences for plant population dynamics and species coexistence. We focus on plant communities for which water infiltration rates exhibit positive dependency on plant biomass and where plant responses can be improved by shading, particularly under water limiting conditions. We show that the effects of these two resource-mediated positive interactions are similar and additive. We predict that positive interactions shift the transition points between different species compositions along environmental gradients and that realized niche widths will expand or shrink. Furthermore, continuous transitions between different community compositions can become discontinuous and bistability or tristability can occur. Moreover, increased infiltration rates may give rise to a new potential coexistence mechanism that we call controlled facilitation. (C) 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2010
  • 2010