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Qualitative geographical variation in interspecific interactions

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We explore geographical variation in the density relationship between potential competitor forest bird groups, resident Parus spp. and migrant Fringilla spp., across Europe using published bird census results. In addition, we summarized results from three experimental studies from northern Europe on their density associations. Based on anticipated changes in the relative intensity of positive and competitive interactions we predicted a unimodal density association between Parus and Fringilla: at low and intermediate densities the two groups are positively associated (positive interaction), whereas high densities promote interspecific competition. In central Europe where densities are high, densities were unimodally related to each other. In northern and southern Europe linear and positive associations appeared. Experimental studies provided consistent support for positive interspecific interactions in the north. The results suggest that species interactions may indeed vary in relation to the density of potential competitor and switch from positive to negative along environmental gradients.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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