Temporally fluctuating prey and coexistence among unequal conspecific interferers
Journal article, 2003
Coexistence among unequal conspecific interferers should be unlikely to persist if stronger interferers always experience a relative fitness increment from their higher foraging rates. In this study, we suggest that decreased relative costs to weaker interferers with increasing temporal fluctuations in prey availability may be a mechanism enhancing coexistence of unequal conspecific interferers. Previous work on fluctuation and coexistence has dealt with oscillations over a time-scale measured in generations of competitor species and their resources, while our work shows that fluctuations in prey availability facilitate coexistence of different phenotypic strategies within species and generations, and over short time-scales. With increasing amplitude of temporal fluctuation about an average prey density, cumulative intakes for differently strong interferers are affected differently. Because of the prey-dependent effect of interference, high amplitudes of fluctuation allow for relatively lower foraging-rate costs in weaker interferers, which decreases the difference in foraging success between strong and weaker interferers. This decreased difference in foraging success could thus significantly relax the conditions allowing for unequal interferer coexistence.