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Interspecific interactions and range limits: contrasts among interaction types

  • Author(s): Godsoe, W
  • Holland, NJ
  • Cosner, C
  • Kendall, BE
  • Brett, A
  • Jankowski, J
  • Holt, RD
  • et al.
Abstract

© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. There is a great deal of interest in the effects of biotic interactions on geographic distributions. Nature contains many different types of biotic interactions (notably mutualism, commensalism, predation, amensalism, and competition), and it is difficult to compare the effects of multiple interaction types on species’ distributions. To resolve this problem, we analyze a general, flexible model of pairwise biotic interactions that can describe all interaction types. In the absence of strong positive feedback, a species’ ability to be present depends on its ability to increase in numbers when it is rare and the species it is interacting with is at equilibrium. This insight leads to counterintuitive conclusions. Notably, we often predict the same range limit when the focal species experiences competition, predation, or amensalism. Similarly, we often predict the same range margin or when the species experiences mutualism, commensalism, or benefits from prey. In the presence of strong positive density-dependent feedback, different species interactions produce different range limits in our model. In all cases, the abiotic environment can indirectly influence the impact of biotic interactions on range limits. We illustrate the implications of this observation by analyzing a stress gradient where biotic interactions are harmful in benign environments but beneficial in stressful environments. Our results emphasize the need to consider the effects of all biotic interactions on species’ range limits and provide a systematic comparison of when biotic interactions affect distributions.

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