Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Niche theory for mutualism: a graphical approach to plant-pollinator network dynamics.

Abstract

Contemporary niche theory is a useful framework for understanding how organisms interact with each other and with their shared environment. Its graphical representation, popularized by Tilman's resource ratio hypothesis, facilitates analysis of the equilibrium structure of complex dynamical models, including species coexistence. This theory has been applied primarily to resource competition since its early beginnings. Here, we integrate mutualism into niche theory by expanding Tilman's graphical representation to the analysis of consumer-resource dynamics of plant-pollinator networks. We graphically explain the qualitative phenomena previously found by numerical simulations, including the effects on community dynamics of nestedness, adaptive foraging, and pollinator invasions. Our graphical approach promotes the unification of niche and network theories and deepens the synthesis of different types of interactions within a consumer-resource framework.