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Overcome Competitive Exclusion in Ecosystems

By Xin Wang, Yang-Yu Liu

Posted 02 May 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/312645 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2020.101009)

Explaining biodiversity in nature is a fundamental problem in ecology. One great challenge is embodied in the so-called competitive exclusion principle: the number of species in steady coexistence cannot exceed the number of resources. In the past five decades, various mechanisms have been proposed to overcome the limit on diversity set by the competitive exclusion principle. Yet, none of the existing mechanisms can generically overcome competitive exclusion at steady state. Here we show that by forming chasing triplets in the predation process among the consumers and resources, the number of coexisting species of consumers can exceed that of resources at steady state, naturally breaking the competitive exclusion principle. Our model can be broadly applicable to explain the biodiversity of many consumer-resource ecosystems and deepen our understanding of biodiversity in nature.

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