A fundamental notion in community ecology is that local species diversity reflects some balance between the contrasting forces of competitive exclusion and competitive release. Quantifying this balance is not trivial, and requires data on the magnitude of both processes in the same system, as well as appropriate methodology to integrate and interpret such data. Here we present a novel framework for empirical studies of the balance between competitive exclusion and competitive release and demonstrate its applicability using data from a Mediterranean annual grassland where grazing is a major mechanism of competitive release. Empirical data on the balance between competitive exclusion and competitive release are crucial for understanding observed patterns of variation in local species diversity and the proposed approach provides a simple framework for the collection, interpretation, and synthesis of such data.
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© 2016 Segre et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.