OOS 54-3
Coexistence theory provides the key to integrating species interactions into predictions of species’ range limits

Wednesday, August 12, 2015: 2:10 PM
336, Baltimore Convention Center
William Godsoe, School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
Frederick R. Adler, Department of Biology and Department of Mathematics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Miguel Araújo, Department of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid, Spain
Guillaume Blanchet, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Michael Bode, ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Lauren B. Buckley, Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
G. Chris Cosner, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
Janet Franklin, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Nathaniel J. Holland, Biology and Biochemistry, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Henriette (Yetta) Jager, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Jill E. Jankowski, Biodiversity Research Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Bruce E. Kendall, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA
Anthony W. King, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN
Otso Ovaskainen, Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Robin E. Snyder, Biology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Robert D. Holt, Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Dominique Gravel, Biologie, chimie et géographie, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski, QC, Canada

A fundamental goal of ecology is to predict where species will be present (i.e. their geographic distribution). It is currently unclear when species’ distributions depend on species interactions. Small-scale studies suggest that interactions among species, such as competition, are important. It is less clear when these interactions matter at large spatial scales; we rarely have the opportunity to experimentally examine the large-scale consequences of species’ interactions. 


Here we argue that coexistence theory provides powerful, underexploited tools to resolve the effect of competition on species’ distributions. Coexistence theory seeks to identify conditions where competing species can be present at a given location. As a result, an understanding of when competing species coexist can provide an understanding of when one species influences the presence of another. Conditions that promote coexistence reduce the effect of competition on species’ distributions. Experiments designed to study coexistence can be modified to anticipate the effect of competition on range limits. Results from coexistence theory can be used to link a range of competitive interactions to their effects on species’ distributions. Finally, we discuss how these results can be used to improve predictions of changes in species’ distributions.