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Keywords:

  • Habitat destruction;
  • extinction;
  • competition;
  • mutualism;
  • metapopulation;
  • model

Because habitat loss is a leading cause of extinction, it is important to identify what kind of species is most vulnerable. Here, I use algebraic and graphical techniques to study metacommunity models of weak competition or locally facultative mutualism in which species may coexist within patches. Because a competition–colonization trade-off is not required for regional coexistence of competitors, poor competitors are often regionally rare and most prone to extinction, in contrast to results from previous models of strongly competitive metapopulations. Metacommunities of mutualists can suffer the abrupt extinction of both species as habitat destruction is increased. These highlight the importance of identifying the mechanisms by which species coexist to predict their response to habitat loss.