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Ecological NichesLinking Classical and Contemporary Approaches$
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Jonathan M. Chase and Mathew A. Leibold

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780226101798

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226101811.001.0001

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Species Sorting in Communities

Species Sorting in Communities

(p.106) Chapter Seven Species Sorting in Communities
Ecological Niches

Jonathan M. Chase

Mathew A. Leibold

University of Chicago Press

Ecologists have wrestled with a number of methods to study more complex communities, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses. This chapter illustrates how the niche concept can contribute. It discusses community-wide character displacement and shows that similar species might often coexist in local communities. Taking this idea further might predict that species with identical niches should often coexist as hypothesized by Hubbell (2001) due to other mechanisms. If species sorting leads to local coexistence of fairly similar species, the selection on these species might favor further convergence in species characters. Such convergence will be a delicate process because it must happen without having either species benefit too much relative to the other (otherwise exclusion might ensue). Further, convergence of species may be affected by different overall constraints (e.g., design constraints). This would indicate that convergence might be more likely among closely related species that would be less subject to those sorts of constraints.

Keywords:   niche concept, community ecology, character displacement, coexistence

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