Resource partitioning

Resource overlap typically is evaluated based on similarities between individuals along three major axes: food, habitat, and time (season or time of day) when the organism is active. The evidence from many studies of resource partitioning encompassing a variety of taxa in both aquatic and terrestrial settings indicates that habitat segregation occurs more commonly than dietary segregation, which in turn is more common than temporal segregation (Schoener 1974). Schoener also reported a tendency for trophic separation to be of relatively greater importance among aquatic organisms. Evidence of food specialization usually comes from inspection of gut contents; thus it matters a great deal whether food items fall into easily distinguished categories. Not surprisingly, food partitioning is reported more commonly from studies of grazers and predators than of detritivores. Resource partitioning between two species often involves multiple axes, and so similarity in resource use along just one axis provides an incomplete picture. Fish and invertebrates both have been studied extensively from a resource partitioning perspective, but the literature for aquatic plants and benthic algae is scant.

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