Competition and Species Packing in Patchy Environments

Linda A. Buttel, Richard Durrett, Simon Asher Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


In models of competition in which space is treated as a continuum, and population size as continuous, there are no limits to the number of species that can coexist. For a finite number of sites, N, the results are different. The answer will, of course, depend on the model used to ask the question. In the Tilman-May-Nowak ordinary differential equation model, the number of species is asymptotically C log N with most species packed in at the upper end of the competitive hierarchy. In contrast, for metapopulation models with discrete individuals and stochastic spatial systems with various competition neighborhoods, we find a traditional species area relationship CNa, with no species clumping along the phenotypic gradient. The exponent a is larger by a factor of 2 for spatially explicit models. In words, a spatial distribution of competitors allows for greater diversity than a metapopulation model due to the effects of recruitment limitation in their competition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-276
Number of pages12
JournalTheoretical Population Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


  • Biodiversity
  • Stochastic spatial model


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