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Positive and negative interactions within and between species may occur simultaneously, with the net effect depending on population densities. For instance, at low densities plants may ameliorate stress, while competition for resources dominates at higher densities. Here, we propose a simple two-species model in which con- and heterospecifics have a positive effect on per capita growth rate at low densities, while negative interactions dominate at high densities. The model thus includes both Allee effects (intraspecific positive effects) and mutualism (interspecific positive effects), as well as intra- and interspecific competition. Using graphical methods we derive conditions for alternative stable states and species coexistence. We show that mutual non-invasibility (i.e. the inability of each species to invade a population of the other) is more likely when species have a strong positive effect on the own species or a strong negative effect on the other species. Mutual non-invasibility implies alternative stable states, however, there may also be alternative stable states at which species coexist. In the case of species symmetry (i.e. when species are indistinguishable), such alternative coexistence states require that if the positive effect exerted at low densities at the own species is stronger than on the other species, the negative effect at higher densities is also stronger on the own species than on the other species, or, vice versa, if the interspecific positive effects at low densities are stronger than the intraspecific effects, the negative effects at higher densities are also stronger between species than within species. However, the reachability of alternative stable states is restricted by the frequency and density at which species are introduced during community assembly, so that alternative stable states do not always represent alternative endstates of community assembly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-18
JournalTheoretical Population Biology
Volume96
Issue numbersept
DOI
Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Research areas

  • NIOO

ID: 243027