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Pages 167-174
First published 2 September 2013

Multiple Life-History Stage Competition and its Effect on Coexistence

Miguel Gonzalez, Richard Watson, Jason Noble, Patrick Doncaster


Explaining the long-term coexistence of many species in a complex ecosystem has been an important topic in both ALife and ecology for several decades. Neutral and niche theories have been developed in parallel to explain ecological patterns of coexistence. Among the niche theories, trade-offs between species seem to play important roles in the mechanism of most models proposed so far. One of the many trade-off approaches to explain coexistence within trophic levels explores the scenario of species having two developmental stages existing in different ecological niches. Previous work has shown that such multi-stage models can sustain many species with inter-specific competitive coefficients larger than intra-specific ones for one of the stages, but the effect of such scenarios on the possible combinations for coexistence in the parameter space has not been explored. Here, we build on previous work by considering the effect of adding more stages to the competition model and analysing the relative sizes of the basins of attraction leading to coexistence. Computational simulations and Monte Carlo methods were used to analyse each number-of-life-stages case. The results show an increase in the number of coexistence cases between one and three stages. For more than three stages coexistence cases are reduced in relation to the parameter space due to the averaging effect of multiple competitive coefficients. The implications of such results could offer a potential explanation for coexistence patterns in ecology and adaptive ones in evolutionary biology.