Enemy free space and the structure of ecological communities



We define ‘enemy free space’ as ways of living that reduce or eliminate a species' vulnerability to one or more species of natural enemies. Many aspects of species' niches, in ecological and evolutionary time have apparently been moulded by interactions with natural enemies for enemy free space. We review a large number of examples. Yet many ecologists continue to think and write as though classical resource based competition for food or space is the primary determinant of species' niches. Often it is not. The recognition that the struggle for enemy free space is an important component of many species' ecologies may have important consequences for studies of community convergence, limits to species packing, and the ratio of predator species to prey species in natural communities.