You are on page 1of 22


• comprises all the populations of organisms
inhabiting a common environment and
interacting with one another
• These interactions are competitive, predatory, or
• Competition
• interaction between
individual organisms
of the same species
(intraspecific) or of a
different species
the same resource,
often in limited
• e.g. food, water, light,
living space
• Interference
• Involves overt fighting
or other face-to-face
• Exploitative
• Involves removal of a
resource, leaving less
for others
The Principles of Competitive Exclusion

• G. F. Gause formulated principle of

competitive exclusion.
• If two species are in competition for the same
limited resource, one or the other will be more
efficient at utilizing or controlling access to this
resource and will eventually eliminate the other
in situations in which they occur together.
The Principles of Competitive Exclusion
• In Gause’s experiment,
Paramecium aurelia
Paramecium caudatum.
Resource Partitioning

• Resources are
partitioned among
ecologically similar
members of a
Resource Partitioning
Woodland Warblers
• Robert MacArthur
observed and timed
where warblers fed
within trees. His data
showed that the five
species studied each have
different feeding zones in
the trees. Because they
exploit slightly different
resources, the species can
Resource Partitioning
Bog Mosses
• In bogs, mosses of
the genus Sphagnum
often appear to form
a continuous cover,
and several species
are involved.
Although all the
species of Sphagnum
coexist, they actually
occupy different
Resource Partitioning
African Ungulates
• Similarly, leaf and grass
eaters of East Africa
partition their resources.
• Browsers (leaf eaters)
consume leaves at
different heights.
• e.g giraffes vs.
• Grazers (grass eaters)
consume different types
of grass.
• e.g. zebra vs.
Resource Partitioning
The Role of Past Competition in Resource Partitioning
Experimental Approaches to the Study of Competition
Barnacles in Scotland

• One of the clearest demonstrations of

competition in a natural community was a
study of two species of barnacles,
Chthamalus stellatus and Semibalanus
balanoides, performed by Joseph Connell.
Patterns on the Rocky Shore
• The position of plants and animals along the
intertidal zone is far from random - there are distinct
patterns in the distribution of certain species.
• The causes of these zonation patterns have been
thoroughly investigated and were previously
thought to be the result of the organisms' ability to
survive the changes in tide level and extended
periods out of water.
• The distribution of species is governed not only by
physical factors, such as the length of time species
are left out of water, but also by biological factors, or
the interactions between other species on the shore.
Out of Water
• The hardiest organisms, able to survive longer periods exposed to the
air, tend to be found higher up the shore in the drier areas. Thus the
rocky shore community is divided into distinct bands characterised
by certain species.

• Right at the top, just below the land plants, there is a 'splash' zone of
black, yellow and grey lichens. These plants are rarely covered by
the tides, but are frequently splashed with salt water by waves.

• Below the lichens there is usually a greyish or white band of

barnacles, and these may extend down over most of the mid-shore.

• On rocky or stony shorelines, various types of tough brown

seaweeds, called wracks, grow alongside the barnacles, and may
largely replace the barnacles on very sheltered rocky shores.
Experimental Approaches to the Study of Competition
Barnacles in Scotland

• Chthamalus is found on the high part of the

intertidal seashore, and Semibalanus occurs lower
down, where the conditions are more suitable.
• When Semibalanus is removed, Chthamalus invades the
lower area and thrives there.
• In the control areas, Semibalanus, which grows faster,
ousts Chthamalus by crowding it off the rocks or
growing over it, keeping each in their usual zones.
• Tolerance limits, however, keep Semibalanus from
moving upward if Chthamals is removed.
• Tolerance hypothesis
• The earliest species neither facilitate nor inhibit
colonization by later species. The species dominant
at any given time are those that can best tolerate the
existing physical conditions and availability of
• Inhibition hypothesis
• The early species prevent—rather than assist—
colonization by other species.
Experimental Approaches to the Study of Competition
Barnacles in Scotland
Experimental Approaches to the Study of Competition
Barnacles in Scotland
• Fundamental niche
• Physiological limits of tolerance of an
• Niche occupied by an organism in the
absence of interaction with other
• Realized niche
• Portion of fundamental niche actually
• Determined by physical factors and
also by interactions with other
Predation and Species Diversity

• Although predation may occasionally

eliminate a prey species, many experimental
studies have shown that it is often an
important factor in maintaining species
diversity in a community.
• e.g. R. T. Paine—starfish and prey
• e.g. Jane Lubchenco—marine snail Littorina
littorea and algae
• Parasitism
• One species benefits
and the other is harmed
• Mutualism
• Both species benefit
• Commensalism
• One species benefits
and the other is
• Parasitic diseases are most likely to wipe out the
very young, the very old, and the disabled—either
directly, or more often, indirectly, by making them
more susceptible to other predators or to the
effects of climate or food shortages.
• A parasite-caused disease should not be too
virulent nor too efficient.
• If a parasite were to kill all the hosts for which it is
adapted, it too would perish.
Ants and Aracias
• On one of the African species of
Aracia, the ants of the genus
Crematogaster gnaw entrance holes
in the walls of the thorns and live
permanently inside them. The ants
obtain food from nectar-secreting
glands on the leaves and eat
caterpillars and other herbivores
that they find on the trees.