You are welcome to attend the following Statistics and Stochastic colloquium (part of the Colloquium Series of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics) at La Trobe University.

Title: The competitive exclusion principle in stochastic environments

Speaker: Dr Alexandru Hening, Tufts University

Time & Date: 12:00 noon Thursday 12 September 2019

Venue: Room 310, Physical Sciences 2, La Trobe University, Melbourne Campus


The competitive exclusion principle states that a number of species competing for a smaller number of resources cannot coexist. Even though this is a fundamental principle in ecology, it has been observed empirically that in some settings it will fail. One example is Hutchinson’s `paradox of the plankton’. This is an instance where a large number of phytoplankton species coexist while competing for a very limited number of resources. Both experimental and theoretical studies have shown that in some instances (deterministic) temporal fluctuations of the environment can facilitate coexistence for competing species. Hutchinson conjectured that one can get coexistence because nonequilibrium conditions would make it possible for different species to be favored by the environment at different times. In this talk I will look at how environmental noise interacts with competitive exclusion. I will show that, contrary to Hutchinson’s explanation, one can switch between two environments in which the same species is favored and still get coexistence.

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