Ecological Society of America
Theory has recognized a combination of niche and neutral processes each contributing, with varying importance, to species coexistence. However, long-term persistence of rare species has been difficult to produce in trait-based models of coexistence that incorporate stochastic dynamics, raising questions about how rare species persist despite such variability. Following recent evidence that rare species may experience significantly different population dynamics than dominant species, we use a plant community model to simulate the effect of disproportionately strong negative frequency dependence on the long-term persistence of the rare species in a simulated community. This strong self-limitation produces long persistence times for the rare competitors, which otherwise succumb quickly to stochastic extinction. The results suggest that the mechanism causing species to be rare in this case is the same mechanism allowing those species to persist.
Yenni, G.M., P.B. Adler, S.K.M. Ernest. 2012. Strong self-limitation promotes the persistence of rare species. Ecology 93:456-461.