Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Niche Differences In Biodiversity: Species' Differences Are Responsible For Their Coexistence

Date:
August 22, 2009
Source:
University of California - Santa Barbara
Summary:
Scientists have found strong evidence that niche differences are critical to biodiversity. The new study provides the first strong evidence that species' differences are responsible for their coexistence.

Jonathan Levine conducting his biodiversity research.
Credit: George Foulsham, Office of Public Affairs, UCSB

Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have found strong evidence that niche differences are critical to biodiversity. Their findings are published online in this week's issue of the journal Nature.

"Ecologists have long assumed that species differences in how they use the environment are key to explaining the large number of species we see all around us, but the importance of such niches have never been field tested," said first author Jonathan M. Levine, associate professor in UCSB's Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology.

Levine and his co-author Janneke HilleRisLambers, a former postdoctoral fellow at UCSB, who is now an assistant professor at the University of Washington, did field testing of small plants. These plants were found in northern Santa Barbara County on rocky outcrops, where diversity is very high. They used a combination of mathematical techniques, as well as experimental approaches, to remove niche differences from these experimental communities.

"Our work is important because it resolves a century-old biodiversity puzzle," said Levine. "Why doesn't the single best competitor exclude all others in the community?"

Ecological theory has posed two possible answers to the coexistence conundrum. "The classic argument is that niche differences allow species to divide up the environment, much like different products cater to consumers of different tastes or incomes," he said. "The alternative is that competitors are so evenly matched that no single species can win –– as occurs when different airlines offer the same route for the same price."

Conflict between these hypotheses has formed the single greatest controversy in ecology over the last decade. The new study provides the first strong evidence that species' differences are responsible for their coexistence.

Although the study's primary importance is in advancing pure ecological science, understanding how biodiversity works is critical. It is in those communities in which niche differences maintain diversity that species loss has the greatest impact on plant production, and other ecosystem services to mankind –– from economic to aesthetic.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Santa Barbara. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jonathan M. Levine & Janneke HilleRisLambers. The importance of niches for the maintenance of species diversity. Nature, 2009; DOI: 10.1038/nature08251

Cite This Page:

University of California - Santa Barbara. "Niche Differences In Biodiversity: Species' Differences Are Responsible For Their Coexistence." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090812163802.htm>.
University of California - Santa Barbara. (2009, August 22). Niche Differences In Biodiversity: Species' Differences Are Responsible For Their Coexistence. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090812163802.htm
University of California - Santa Barbara. "Niche Differences In Biodiversity: Species' Differences Are Responsible For Their Coexistence." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090812163802.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins