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Resource Partitioning : Importance & Examples

Sep 1, 2022
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Introduction: 

Resource Partitioning  

The limited resources are divided by the species to avoid competition in an ecological niche. This is known as resource partitioning. Various species have to find ways to coexist with one another in any environment because of the competition for limited resources.   

Zebra 

Competition for resources by individuals of the similar species is denoted by intraspecific competition. Competition for resources by individuals of distinct species is denoted by interspecific competition. Its original concept can be referred to as evolutionary adaptations in species as a response to evolutionary pressure from inter/intraspecific competition.

Habitat partitioning in birds 
 

Examples Of Resource Partitioning  

Habitat partitioning:  

  • The Anole lizards compete for the same food, i.e., insects.  
  • Some lizards live on the forest floor while some may live higher up in their habitat in trees.  
  • This habitat partitioning based on their physical location helps in their coexistence more effectively.
Habitat partitioning 

Food partitioning: –  

  •  Examples are some species of lemur monkeys.  
  • Chemical characteristics of food may be the discriminating factor. Different species can coexist while eating similar yet chemically different foods.  
  • Plant chemistry-based food partitioning can also play an important role in the coexistence of species. 
  • Also, some species may have affinity for different parts of the same plan.
Food partitioning

Long Term Effects Of Resource Partitioning  

Species can have long term coexistence with one another in the same habitat by partitioning out resources. Both species are allowed to survive and thrive by this rather than one species causing the other to go extinct, as is the case in complete competition. Combination of both interspecific and intraspecific competition is important in relation to species.

Interspecific competition 

When distinct species occupy somewhat different niches in terms of resources, the limiting factor for population size becomes intraspecific competition rather than interspecific competition. Humans can also have profound effects on ecosystems, particularly in causing species go extinct. This study helps us understand how the removal of a species may impact the overall allocation and usage of resources both in particular niche and in broader environment. 

Intraspecific competition 

Importance Of Resource Partitioning  

More species survive and ultimately thrive with the coexistence of several species and the division of scarce resources between them. To an outright competition, this characteristic is in direct contrast because in competition, only one species will survive after driving its competitor to extinction. Resource partitioning is helpful in humans’ understanding of how these ecosystems would be impacted if a particular species were to go extinct. 

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Resource partitioning

Scientists may even predict the ecosystems, biomes and habitats which are at most risk of losing a particular species due to competition. Resource partitioning arguments explain that the environment is heterogeneous. Because species have resource requirements and are specialized to succeed on particular patch types, that’s how coexistence is possible. 

Resource partitioning 

Complete Competitors Can Not Exist  

Suppose if two species use the same limiting resource in the same way, they cannot coexist.   The superior competitor will always miss out. This is exhibited by classical experiments and mathematical models. The best competitor specializes in their use of resource and thereby limit their competition with others. 

Exclusion of inferior species 

Single Species Compete For Limiting Resources  

Only limited number of ways are there to “make a living” within the ecological communities. For example, there are hard skeleton corals in a coral reef that gain food from capturing planktonic animals in their tentacles In exchange for providing a proper habitat and nutrients, skeleton corals gain extra sources of energy from sugar-synthesizing symbiotic algae.

 Competition for limited resource 

Potential Competitors  

Potential competitors show variations in patterns of resource usage which is shown by various studies. The most apparent way that species can partition resources is in terms of what they eat. This is underpinned by differences in their morphological adaptations that allow differential resource use.

 Potential competitors

It is relatively easy to document the various differences in the ways that ecologically similar animal species use their environment and resources. The study of resource partitioning in plants can be much more difficult, and the scarcity of such examples has led many ecologists to question whether plants truly exhibit resource partitioning. It is because all of them required a limited suite of resources. 

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Summary

  • The limited resources are divided by the species to avoid competition in an ecological niche. This is known as resource partitioning.
  • Various species have to find out ways to coexist with one another in any environment because of the competition for limited resources.
  • Intraspecific competition refers to resource competition between individuals of the same species.
  • Interspecific competition refers to resource competition between individuals of different species.
  • The Anole lizards compete for the same food, i.e., insects.
  • Plant chemistry-based food partitioning can also play an important role in the coexistence of species.

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