Ecology

Deterministic Competition

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Science  16 May 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5878, pp. 851
DOI: 10.1126/science.320.5878.851a

The neutral theory of ecological community composition, which holds that species are interchangeable, has in recent years become a benchmark against which to test ecological data for signs of more niche-based mechanisms of species coexistence. Using data on tree species abundance in a Mexican tropical deciduous forest, Kelly et al. show that closely related pairs of species are more similar in abundance to each other than would be expected by chance, and also more similar in abundance than more distantly related species. This analysis suggests that closely related species interact with each other in different ways than do more distantly related or unrelated pairs—and hence argues against an important tenet of neutral theory. — AMS

Ecology 89, 962 (2008).

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