Spatial and Stochastic Models

All nonspatial or spatially implicit models presented in the previous sections rely on the 'mean-field assumption', that is, within the whole well-mixed community, organisms interact with each other in proportion to their average population densities or biomasses. However, while this assumption can easily apply to aquatic communities, such as phytoplankton - for which such models were often primarily developed - it is not relevant for most plant communities, in which local dispersal and interactions create clusters of conspecifics (organisms belonging to the same species), thereby promoting a deviation from randomness in the distribution of species across space. This argument led to the development of a variety of spatially explicit models, designed to explore the mutual influence of spatial patterns and competition processes.

Moreover, whenever multispecies competition is unpredictable in a deterministic sense because of chaotic fluctuations, species similarity or small-scale habitat heterogeneity, the focus of research is shifting today toward stochastic models of plant competition.

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