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Data from: Applying modern coexistence theory to priority effects

Cite this dataset

Grainger, Tess Nahanni; Letten, Andrew D.; Gilbert, Benjamin; Fukami, Tadashi (2019). Data from: Applying modern coexistence theory to priority effects [Dataset]. Dryad.


Modern coexistence theory is increasingly used to explain how differences between competing species lead to coexistence versus competitive exclusion. Although research testing this theory has focused on deterministic cases of competitive exclusion, in which the same species always wins, mounting evidence suggests that competitive exclusion is often historically contingent, such that whichever species happens to arrive first excludes the other. Coexistence theory predicts that historically contingent exclusion, known as priority effects, will occur when large destabilizing differences (positive frequency-dependent growth rates of competitors), combined with small fitness differences (differences in competitors’ intrinsic growth rates and sensitivity to competition), create conditions under which neither species can invade an established population of its competitor. Here we extend the empirical application of modern coexistence theory to determine the conditions that promote priority effects. We conducted pairwise invasion tests with four strains of nectar-colonizing yeasts to determine how the destabilizing and fitness differences that drive priority effects are altered by two abiotic factors characterizing the nectar environment: sugar concentration and pH. We found that higher sugar concentrations increased the likelihood of priority effects by reducing fitness differences between competing species. In contrast, higher pH did not change the likelihood of priority effects, but instead made competition more neutral by bringing both fitness differences and destabilizing differences closer to zero. This study demonstrates how the empirical partitioning of priority effects into fitness and destabilizing components can elucidate the pathways through which environmental conditions shape competitive interactions.

Usage notes


National Science Foundation, Award: 1737758