Summary

Interactions can have positive, negative or neutral effects on the individuals involved, and these effects may or may not influence population and/or community dynamics. When individuals compete, they may exploit resources such as nutrients, water and space, making them unavailable to competitors (exploitation competition), or they may deny access of resources to others (interference competition). In this chapter we looked at competition and allelopathy: interactions where at least one partner was negatively affected. There is no question that competition can play an important role in shaping populations and communities; however, it is a complex interaction, and to say that 'competition is important' really gives us very little information. Individuals can compete for more than one resource at a time and they can compete above and below ground. The outcome of a competitive interaction will depend on many things, including the relative size and growth rates of individuals as well as the abiotic environment. Allelopathy, possibly a form of interference competition, involves the production of toxins that can make tissues or habitats unsuitable for use. In the next chapter we examine types of interactions where at least one individual benefits.

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