Exploitation and Interference

Exploitation of resources leading to their decrease is defined as exploitive competition, or depletion competition. It implies that individuals diminish the amount of resources available to others, but do not interfere with the pursuit of others. Competing individuals may interfere either by preventing others from procuring the resources or simply by their presence in the same place. Aggressive behavior toward other individuals, territory defense, and kleptoparasitism (i.e., stealing food from others) are adaptations that allow individuals to obtain larger resource share. On the other hand, if large herds of grazers trample on grass making it unavailable as food or if feeding birds scare small invertebrates so that they hide, these are nonadaptive interferences, the by-products of other activities. They affect not only the receivers but also the creators of these activities.

Interference is also known in terrestrial plants. While competition of plants for nutrients in soil or water is exploitive, their competition for light involves interference by shading. Another kind of interference among plants is allelopathy, the production of chemical compounds that affect the growth of other plants.

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