Competitive displacement is the most severe outcome of interspecific competition. For the purposes of this review, we define this type of displacement as the removal of a formerly established species from a habitat as a result of direct or indirect competitive interactions with another species. We reviewed the literature for recent putative cases of competitive displacement among insects and arachnids and assessed the evidence for the role of interspecific competition in these displacements. We found evidence for mechanisms of both exploitation and interference competition operating in these cases of competitive displacement. Many of the cases that we identified involve the operation of more than one competitive mechanism, and many cases were mediated by other noncompetitive factors. Most, but not all, of these displacements occurred between closely related species. In the majority of cases, exotic species displaced native species or previously established exotic species, often in anthropogenically-altered habitats. The cases that we identified have occurred across a broad range of taxa and environments. Therefore we suggest that competitive displacement has the potential to be a widespread phenomenon, and the frequency of these displacement events may increase, given the ever-increasing degree of anthropogenic changes to the environment. A greater awareness of competitive displacement events should lead to more studies documenting the relative importance of key factors and developing hypotheses that explain observed patterns.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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