Data from: Lottery coexistence on rocky shores: weak niche differentiation or equal competitors engaged in neutral dynamics?
Shinen, Jennifer L.; Navarrete, Sergio A. (2013), Data from: Lottery coexistence on rocky shores: weak niche differentiation or equal competitors engaged in neutral dynamics?, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.95br2
Reconciling how niche and neutral processes may be important in species coexistence has revealed two important weaknesses in our collective understanding of species diversity: few empirical studies have determined whether species are truly coexisting, and fewer still have properly evaluated whether coexistence is achieved through niche differentiation or ecological equivalence. Here, we ask whether two common barnacles, Jehlius cirratus and Notochthamalus scabrosus, coexist locally and whether the slight but persistent differences in their distribution provide sufficient fitness trade-offs to overcome differences in competition. Both species recovered after experimental reduction; that is, they coexist, with no indication of hierarchical exclusion. No fitness inequalities affected species performance or interference effects on vital rates at any shore level, indicating no trade-offs in intra-interspecific effects across the ecological gradient. Additionally, no relationship was found between per capita population growth rates of either species with its own relative abundance; that is, neither species has a demographic advantage when rare. Instead, a lottery for space during settlement largely determines species’ distributions, evidenced by the positive correlation across sites and tidal elevations between the relative abundances of adults and the recruits of the prior season. We conclude that Jehlius and Notochthamalus coexist neutrally, or nearly so, but discuss whether small, nonsignificant, and probably ephemeral fitness differences, which are inconsistent across the tidal gradient, could provide enough niche differentiation to promote coexistence.