From: Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Published May 15, 2017 01:18 PM

Gladiator Games: In Nature's Showdowns, Biodiversity Shields Weaker Competitors

If you pit a pair of gladiators, one strong and one weak, against each other 10 times the outcome will likely be the same every time: the stronger competitor will defeat the weak. But if you add into the field additional competitors of varying strength levels, even the weakest competitors might be able to survive — if only because they’re able to find a quiet corner to hide.

The same is true in the natural world, where in some ecosystems species compete with others for the space to survive and reproduce, according to a long-held scientific theory.
 
In a new study Yale researchers illustrate that, in the case of fungal communities, maintaining a diverse collection of species indeed not only safeguards weaker species but also protects the genetic diversity of the larger community.
 
Or, as the researchers suggest, biodiversity begets biodiversity. Understanding this phenomenon, they say, will help in efforts to protect some of the world’s most threatened ecosystems, including coral reefs.

Read more at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Image: In a series of paired interactions, the most competitive fungus was Phlebiopsis flavidoalba, which is the top fungus in the upper right corner of the photo. One of the least competitive was Armillaria tabescens (not shown), and one of the strongly-defensive species that deadlocked in most of its competitions was Phellinus hartigii, which is the top brown fungus in the middle dish on the bottom row.  (Credit: Maynard, et al)

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