I tested the hypothesis that spatial structure provides a trade-off between reproduction and predation risk and thereby facilitates predator-mediated coexistence of competing prey species. I compared a cellular automata model to a mean-field model of two prey species and their common predator. In the mean-field model, the prey species with the higher reproductive rate (the superior competitor) always outcompeted the other species (the inferior competitor), both in the presence of and the absence of the predator. In the cellular automata model, both prey species, which differed only in their reproductive rates, coexisted for a long time in the presence of their common predator at intermediate levels of predation. At low predation rates, the superior competitor dominated, while high predation rates favored the inferior competitor. This discrepancy in the results of the different models was due to a trade-off that spontaneously emerged in spatially structured populations; that is, the more clustered distribution of the superior competitor made it more susceptible to predation. In addition, coexistence of competing prey species declined with increasing dispersal ranges of either prey or predator, which suggests that the trade-off that results from spatial structure becomes less important as either prey or predator disperse over a broader range.
- Apparent competition
- Cellular automata
- Exploitative competition
- Predator-mediated coexistence
- Spatial effect
- Trade-off between predation risk and reproduction