Theoretical Ecology

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 83–93 | Cite as

Coexistence and displacement in consumer-resource systems with local and shared resources

  • Victoria M. Hunt
  • Joel S. Brown


Competition for local and shared resources is widespread. For example, colonial waterbirds consume local prey in the immediate vicinity of their colony, as well as shared prey across multiple colonies. However, there is little understanding of conditions facilitating coexistence vs. displacement in such systems. Extending traditional models based on type I and type II functional responses, we simulate consumer-resource systems in which resources are “substitutable,” “essential,” or “complementary.” It is shown that when resources are complementary or essential, a small increase in carrying capacity or decrease in handling time of a local resource may displace a spatially separate consumer species, even when the effect on shared resources is small. This work underscores the importance of determining both the nature of resource competition (substitutable, essential, or complementary) and appropriate scale-dependencies when studying metacommunities. We discuss model applicability to complex systems, e.g., urban wildlife that consume natural and anthropogenic resources which may displace rural competitors by depleting shared prey.


Holling’s disc Functional response Consumer-resource model Coexistence Displacement Zero net growth isocline 



The authors thank Rosalyn Rael, Paul Orlando, and two anonymous reviewers for providing very helpful comments and insights that improved the manuscript.

Supplementary material

12080_2017_350_MOESM1_ESM.r (75 kb)
ESM 1 (R 75 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Illinois—ChicagoChicagoUSA

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