Competitive Exclusion and Niche Differentiation

by Jason Amores Sumpter
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if species occupy the same niche or have overlapping niches, something's gonna have to change. Now. If two species occupy the same niche and there's no disturbance in their environment, one will out compete, the other says the competitive exclusion principle. You can see this represented in this chart here where, you know, assuming that there's no disturbance species, one is going to weigh out, compete, species to and species to is gonna go extinct or that population is gonna go extinct, I should say now, if competing species have overlapping niches, they can do what's, uh oh are. They can experience what's called niche differentiation where they'll actually use the environment differently to better coexist. And this could be achieved through resource partitioning, where similar species will differentiate their niches to better use. The resource is available and you know, mostly to use different resource is to lower the competition between them. So you can see that happening here where we have these three species that are all overlapping in their niches and they're going to have a niche differentiation, and that's going to lower the competition between them Now, over time, what you can see happening from this competition. His character displacement and very famous example of that are the finches on the Galapagos Islands that Darwin characterized. Now this is when similar species have distributions that overlap, and so they developed differences to reduce their competition. Now this example right here is super arbitrary. But I just want to use it for illustrative purposes. I'm gonna jump out of the way here, So let's say that the yellow birds and the red birds overlap. They all want the bugs off this tree, but the red birds are going to you know, they're bigger than the yellow birds, so they're going to crowd them out, and they're going to get the bugs from the middle of the tree because I don't know. That's where they want the bugs from something like that. As I said, this is arbitrary. So if that's the case, then the yellow birds could still get the bugs from the top of the tree or the bottom of the tree. So they're going to differentiate their niche to reduce competition. And over time, let's say that these birds evolved to specialize in, you know, eating the bugs at the middle of the tree versus the top of the tree. I don't know what trait that would be, but, you know, assuming that, you know, like their beaks, for example, started out kind of similar and then got more different based on the fact that these guys air eating off the top of the tree and these guys air eating off the middle of the tree, then we'd have character displacement. So essentially, this is when species developed differences to reduce competition. And you can see that again with the Galapagos finches, who all had, uh, you know, these different differences develop so that they could take advantage of different types of food. Resource is available. All right with that, let's flip the page.