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Data from: A shift from exploitation to interference competition with increasing density affects population and community dynamics

Citation

Holdridge, Erica M.; Cuellar-Gempeler, Catalina; terHorst, Casey P. (2017), Data from: A shift from exploitation to interference competition with increasing density affects population and community dynamics, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.9850t

Abstract

Intraspecific competition influences population and community dynamics and occurs via two mechanisms. Exploitative competition is an indirect effect that occurs through use of a shared resource and depends on resource availability. Interference competition occurs by obstructing access to a resource and may not depend on resource availability. Our study tested whether the strength of interference competition changes with protozoa population density. We grew experimental microcosms of protozoa and bacteria under different combinations of protozoan density and basal resource availability. We then solved a dynamic predator–prey model for parameters of the functional response using population growth rates measured in our experiment. As population density increased, competition shifted from exploitation to interference, and competition was less dependent on resource levels. Surprisingly, the effect of resources was weakest when competition was the most intense. We found that at low population densities, competition was largely exploitative and resource availability had a large effect on population growth rates, but the effect of resources was much weaker at high densities. This shift in competitive mechanism could have implications for interspecific competition, trophic interactions, community diversity, and natural selection. We also tested whether this shift in the mechanism of competition with protozoa density affected the structure of the bacterial prey community. We found that both resources and protozoa density affected the structure of the bacterial prey community, suggesting that competitive mechanism may also affect trophic interactions.

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