Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Ecology Letters

Volume

21

Issue

9

Publisher

Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Publication Date

6-25-2018

First Page

1

Last Page

32

Abstract

Theory predicts that intraspecific competition should be stronger than interspecific competition for any pair of stably coexisting species, yet previous literature reviews found little support for this pattern. We screened over 5400 publications and identified 39 studies that quantified phenomenological intraspecific and interspecific interactions in terrestrial plant communities. Of the 67% of species pairs in which both intra‐ and interspecific effects were negative (competitive), intraspecific competition was, on average, four to five‐fold stronger than interspecific competition. Of the remaining pairs, 93% featured intraspecific competition and interspecific facilitation, a situation that stabilises coexistence. The difference between intra‐ and interspecific effects tended to be larger in observational than experimental data sets, in field than greenhouse studies, and in studies that quantified population growth over the full life cycle rather than single fitness components. Our results imply that processes promoting stable coexistence at local scales are common and consequential across terrestrial plant communities.

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