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Coexistence and displacement in consumer-resource systems with local and shared resources

Hunt, VictoriaM., Brown, JoelS.
Theoretical ecology 2018 v.11 no.1 pp. 83-93
carrying capacity, models, water birds, wildlife
Competition for local and shared resources is widespread. For example, colonial waterbirds consume local prey in the immediate vicinity of their colony, as well as shared prey across multiple colonies. However, there is little understanding of conditions facilitating coexistence vs. displacement in such systems. Extending traditional models based on type I and type II functional responses, we simulate consumer-resource systems in which resources are “substitutable,” “essential,” or “complementary.” It is shown that when resources are complementary or essential, a small increase in carrying capacity or decrease in handling time of a local resource may displace a spatially separate consumer species, even when the effect on shared resources is small. This work underscores the importance of determining both the nature of resource competition (substitutable, essential, or complementary) and appropriate scale-dependencies when studying metacommunities. We discuss model applicability to complex systems, e.g., urban wildlife that consume natural and anthropogenic resources which may displace rural competitors by depleting shared prey.