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Data from: Frequency dependence and ecological drift shape coexistence of species with similar niches

Cite this dataset

Svensson, Erik I.; Gomez-Llano, Miguel A.; Torres, Anais Rivas; Bensch, Hanna M. (2017). Data from: Frequency dependence and ecological drift shape coexistence of species with similar niches [Dataset]. Dryad.


The coexistence of ecologically similar species might be counteracted by ecological drift and demographic stochasticity, both of which erode local diversity. With niche differentiation, species can be maintained through performance trade-offs between environments, but trade-offs are difficult to invoke for species with similar ecological niches. Such similar species might then go locally extinct due to stochastic ecological drift but there is little empirical evidence for such processes. Previous studies have relied on biogeographical surveys and inferred process from pattern, while experimental field investigation of ecological drift are rare. Mechanisms preserving local species diversity, such as frequency-dependence (e. g. rare-species advantages), can oppose local ecological drift, but the combined effects of ecological drift and such counteracting forces have seldom been investigated. Here, we investigate mechanisms between coexistence of ecologically similar but strongly sexually differentiated damselfly species (Calopteryx virgo and C. splendens). Combining field surveys, behavioral observations, experimental manipulations of species frequencies and densities, and simulation modelling, we demonstrate that species coexistence is shaped by the opposing forces of ecological drift and negative frequency-dependence (rare species advantage), generated by interference competition. Stochastic and deterministic processes therefore jointly shape coexistence. The role of negative frequency-dependence in delaying the loss of ecologically similar species, such as those formed by sexual selection, should therefore be considered in community assembly, macroecology, macroevolution and biogeography.

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