Coexistence in a metacommunity: the competition–colonization trade-off is not dead


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The competition–colonization trade-off model is often used to explain the coexistence of species. Yet its applicability has been severely criticized, mainly because the original model assumed a strict competitive hierarchy of species and did not allow for any preemptive effect. We considered the impact of relaxing both of these limitations on coexistence. Relaxing trade-off intensity makes coexistence less likely and introduces a minimum colonization rate below which any coexistence is impossible. Allowing for preemption introduces a limit to dissimilarity between species. Surprisingly, preemption does not impede coexistence as one could presume from previous studies, but can actually increase the likelihood of coexistence. Its effect on coexistence depends on whether or not species in the regional pool are strongly limited in their colonization ability. Preemption is predicted to favour coexistence when: (i) species are not strongly limited in their colonization ability; and (ii) the competitive trade-off is not infinitely intense.