Competition in benthic marine invertebrates: the unrecognized role of exploitative competition for oxygen

Ferguson, Nick, White, Craig R. and Marshall, Dustin J. (2013) Competition in benthic marine invertebrates: the unrecognized role of exploitative competition for oxygen. Ecology, 94 1: 126-135. doi:10.1890/12-0795.1

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Author Ferguson, Nick
White, Craig R.
Marshall, Dustin J.
Title Competition in benthic marine invertebrates: the unrecognized role of exploitative competition for oxygen
Journal name Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0012-9658
Publication date 2013-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1890/12-0795.1
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 94
Issue 1
Start page 126
End page 135
Total pages 10
Place of publication Ithaca, NY, United States
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Abstract Competition is a ubiquitous structuring force across systems, but different fields emphasize the role of different types of competition. In benthic marine environments, where some of the classic examples of competition were described, there is a strong emphasis on interference competition: marine invertebrates are assumed to compete fiercely for the limiting resource of space. Much of our understanding of the dynamics of this system is based on this assumption, yet empirical studies often find that increases in density can reduce performance despite free space being available. Furthermore, the assumption that space is the exclusively limiting resource raises paradoxes regarding species coexistence in this system. Here, we measure the availability of oxygen in the field and in the laboratory, as well as the tolerance of resident species to low-oxygen conditions. We show that oxygen can be the primary limiting resource in some instances, and that exploitative competition for this resource is very likely among benthic marine invertebrates. Furthermore, growth form (and the associated risk of oxygen limitation) covaries with the ability to withstand oxygen-poor conditions across a wide range of taxa. Oxygen availability at very small scales may influence the distribution and abundance of sessile marine invertebrates more than is currently appreciated. Furthermore, competition for multiple resources (space and oxygen) and trade-offs in competitive ability for each may promote coexistence in this system.
Keyword Coexistence
Interference competition
Resource limitation theory
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 14 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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