This book has two principal objectives. The first is to provide an overview of existing knowledge about competition. The second is to organize this knowledge in such a way that new research paths are suggested. Such a treatment of competition is badly needed. Although there is a voluminous literature on the topic there is no recent synthesis to which experienced researchers or new students may turn. This is my attempt to provide such an overview. I have tried not only to summarize what is known, but also to stress the unknowns in the hope that some new and innovative research will result. A book such as this faces two challenges at the outset: the sheer volume of the literature, and the presence of established research traditions which determine how that literature is to be interpreted and understood. The literature on competition is as vast and diverse as beetles in the biosphere. How better to begin, then, than with the preface from Crowson's (1981) volume on the Coleoptera? He observed: To deal with so vast a group as the Coleoptera . . . is doubtless an over ambitious aim for any single author; it is inevitable that my attempt to do so will not satisfy specialists in their own particular fields.
Table of Contents1 Studying competition.- 1.1 A definition of competition.- 1.2 Other views on the definition of competition.- 1.3 Kinds of resources.- 1.4 Kinds of competition.- 1.5 Competitive dominance.- 1.6 Back to basics.- 1.7 Questions for discussion.- 2 Competition in action.- 2.1 Competition and thermodynamics: basic principles.- 2.2 Case studies of intraspecific competition.- 2.3 Case studies of interspecific competition.- 2.4 Literature review of case studies.- 2.5 The current situation.- 2.6 Questions for discussion.- 3 Modelling of competition.- 3.1 Kinds of models.- 3.2 The Lotka-Volterra models.- 3.3 A resource competition model.- 3.4 Competition, behaviour and habitat use.- 3.5 Two graphical models for resource partitioning.- 3.6 Conclusion.- 3.7 Questions for discussion.- 4 Choosing the tools.- 4.1 Descriptive, comparative and experimental studies.- 4.2 Descriptive studies.- 4.3 Comparative studies.- 4.4 Experimental studies.- 4.5 Choosing a research path.- 4.6 Questions for discussion.- 5 Extending the generality of field experiments.- 5.1 Criticisms regarding lack of generality.- 5.2 Demonstrating generality of pattern.- 5.3 Using increased numbers of species.- 5.4 Providing a comparative context.- 5.5 Using general experimental factors.- 5.6 Arrangement along gradients.- 5.7 Conclusion.- 5.8 Questions for discussion.- 6 Community matrices and competitive hierarchies.- 6.1 Patterns in community matrices.- 6.2 Two examples of communities with competitive hierarchies.- 6.3 Future directions.- 6.4 Conclusion.- 6.5 Questions for discussion.- 7 Competition, empiricism and comparison.- 7.1 Constraints on competition in plant communities.- 7.2 Constraints on competition in animal communities.- 7.3 Comparison of insect and plant communities.- 7.4 Making theories operational for hypothesis testing.- 7.5 Resource partitioning revisited.- 7.6 Towards general principles.- 7.7 Questions for discussion.- 8 The path to competition theory.- 8.1 Goals for competition theory.- 8.2 Brains and their limitations.- 8.3 Choosing a question.- 8.4 Choosing appropriate model systems.- 8.5 Selecting a conceptual approach.- 8.6 Obstacles to communication.- 8.7 Conclusion.- 8.8 Questions for discussion.- References.