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What does "Niche Complementarity" mean?


On this website they define "Niche Complementarity" as:

The tendency for coexisting species which occupy a similar position along one niche dimension

I don't quite understand this definition. The tendency to do what?


Notes:

  • I know what is an ecological niche and therefore what is a niche dimension. There is no need to define this.

  • I am particularly interested in the use of this concept in speciation and adaptive radiation.

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  • $\begingroup$ There's more to the definition, it's less clear because of the inserted e.g.'s. The definition is: "The tendency for coexisting species which occupy a similar position along one niche dimension to differ along another;" I took out the examples of altitude and diet. $\endgroup$ – A. Kennard Nov 24 '13 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ @A.Kennard I still donn't get how you manage to read the whole definition but anyway, the important thing is that I now understand the concept of "niche complementarity"! Thank you. You can make an answer out of your comment if you wish. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Nov 24 '13 at 14:11
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There is a really good discussion of this in Chesson & Kuang Nature 2008, they propose a way to measure niche complementarity accounting for competition and predation.

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As it has been said by @A.kennard in the comments, the definition the OP found is not complete. The full definition on the link he gave (here) is:

Niche Complementarity:

The tendency for coexisting species which occupy a similar position along one niche dimension to differ along another.

The concept that two competing species will tend to evolve different evological niche is called character displacement. The definition from wikipedia is

Character displacement is the phenomenon where differences among similar species whose distributions overlap geographically are accentuated in regions where the species co-occur, but are minimized or lost where the species’ distributions do not overlap.

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Niche complementarity: If the competitor species overlap for one resource dimension then they will differ for another resource dimension. E.g; All the plant species pollinated by humming birds flower at different time of the year.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE! Please add some references to your answer. $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' Jul 14 '17 at 18:50

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