Differences in major selective forces important in early and late successional communities should influence niche breadth and degree of overlap. Early successional species may not experience consistent, strong selection against competition and can be expected to have broader niches with more overlap than later successional species. This paper presents data from 2 early successional winter annuals that show clear niche separation under conditions in which coevolution is unlikely.
Lactuca scariola L. and Erigeron annuus (L.) Pers. flower in mid-summer and attract the same insect visitors. Erigeron, the more common species, begins to flower in mid-morning when insect visitors are quite active. Lactuca flowers open earlier in the morning and close just before Erigeron flowers open. The early morning hours are not optimum for Lactuca visitation, as most of the visits occur just before floral closing. Both species can selffertilize without a vector, and Lactuca was introduced from Europe. It is, therefore, not possible that niche separation inflowering time and subsequent time of visit in Erigeron and Lactuca is a result of coevolutionary niche differentiation between the two species. This separation is likely to be a preadaptation resulting from coevolution with other species.