Understanding the role of competition in the organization of communities is limited in part by the difficulty of extrapolating the outcomes of small-scale experiments to how such outcomes might affect the distribution and abundance of species. We modeled the community-level outcomes of competition, using experimentally derived competitive effects and responses between an exotic invasive plant, Centaurea stoebe, and species from both its native and nonnative ranges and using changes in these effects and responses elicited by experimentally establishing symbioses between C. stoebe and fungal endophytes. Using relative interaction intensities (RIIs) and holding other life-history factors constant, individual-based and spatially explicit models predicted competitive exclusion of all but one North American species but none of the European species, regardless of the endophyte status of C. stoebe. Concomitantly, C. stoebe was eliminated from the models with European natives but was codominant in models with North American natives. Endophyte symbiosis predicted increased dominance of C. stoebe in North American communities but not in European communities. However, when experimental variation was included, some of the model outcomes changed slightly. Our results are consistent with the idea that the effects of competitive intensity and mutualisms measured at small scales have the potential to play important roles in determining the larger-scale outcomes of invasion and that the stabilizing indirect effects of competition may promote species coexistence.
© 2012, University of Chicago Press. View original published article at 10.1086/668008.