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This is connected to a previous question, found here: Realism of a setting with several sapient anthropomorphic animal species

Presume that due to outside interference with evolution, a planet has developed hundreds of sapient furry species all at the same time. Since these species are based directly on Earth animals, logically their diets follow suit. However, they adapt to a broader sort of potential diet to support living on other locations of the planet (ex. aardvarks adapt to eat insects that aren't ants/termites in order to expand out of their initial biomes).

If you have two or more sapient species which life off of the same food sources (those food sources being either plants, fish, insects, or animals), would they end up clashing and eventually driving all but one out of extinction per food source? Or, is it possible for these species, while being in the same location and eating the same things, to cooperate (ex. the aardvarks and aardwolves, while subsiding on the same diet of insects, do not drive one another to extinction)?

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  • $\begingroup$ Easily, if there is a pair of non-food factors that limits the population of each. Or if they actually depend on each other. That would however not last with intelligent species. $\endgroup$ – Karl Oct 2 '16 at 1:05
  • $\begingroup$ Well, consider the way that dogs have domesticated humans :-) If they have similar diets but different skills, they can cooperate to their mutual benefit. Dogs run fast, and smell & hear better than humans, but humans see better and can throw things. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Oct 18 '16 at 18:23
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I think you need to ask yourself a question: Do you want them to think like human beings? If their mindset is human, then not only will they be driving off, starving out and/or outright killing other sentient species (the Neanderthals), they'll also be doing the same to other humans and to dumb animals. After all, the real world is full (empty?) of endangered species which are endangered for the simple reason that we humans decided that chopping down their forest and ploughing up their prairie to feed us and our domestic animals is A Good Thing.

If you invent a new psychology for them, the world is your oyster.

In evolutionary terms, you can perhaps get a symbiosis/mutualism between a couple of species in situations where lack of food is not the main cause of mortality. If your aardwolves and aardvarks are under constant threat of being eaten by hyenas, they may cooperate in mutual defence. There are a while range of species which pay attention to each other's alarm calls (peacocks, langur monkeys and chital deer being a famous example). You could escalate this to a group defence from the hyenas.

Also consider that in nature, animals are very rarely eating exactly the same food, in exactly the same place at exactly the same time. It may look the same when we throw it into a broad category ('meat' for instance), or a broad habitat ('the African plains'), but niche separation often means that the reality is more complex. The diet of lions, leopards and cheetahs has some overlap (they'll all kill a young zebra), but only a mental cheetah takes on an African buffalo and only a desperate lion tries to catch a hare. The niche separation is not complete in those cats, so lions will happily kill or drive off leopards and cheetahs.

So perhaps your aardvarks are eating mainly termites and beetle grubs, and your aardwolves are eating mainly ants and caterpillars. They'll both eat all of them, but the aardvark is better at digging into termite mounds and the aardwolf is better at resisting ant stings. For other sentient species, perhaps some catch squid and others catch fish. Perhaps some catch little fish and some catch big fish.

Or there could be a resource sharing... scavenging which developed into something else. Polar bears, for instance eat pretty much only the blubber and brains of the seals they kill. Eating the meat causes them problems with eliminating the nitrogen from the protein (they'd need to drink water, and the only water is ice, which will cost them too much heat). Arctic foxes & seabirds follow polar bears around, hoping to scavenge the meat from their kills. If the fox/bird starts leading the bear to seals, that's the start of a mutually beneficial partnership.

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Let's ask the Neanderthals

Given our past history as a species and the way we push the Neanderthals into extinction I have my doubts that two different species could exist in the same niche without conflict. Unless of course the two species had some reason to work together that would benefit both species. Maybe one species provides protection while the other farms for food. Or maybe one species lives on land and the other in the sea, and together they form a complex trade network that benefits both groups.

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    $\begingroup$ For what it's worth, there's still some neanderthal DNA floating around in our genetic code (1-4% in some regions). $\endgroup$ – Draco18s Oct 2 '16 at 5:30
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Compete. Different "races"of humans competed. If you have an actual genetic gap (IE mouse and elephant) you will basically have more extreme racism.

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Too open and depends on too much else.

The answer to the direct question is "compete". The best example of animals with the same diet, is animals of the same species. They almost always compete, and often very intensely, which suggests different species with the same diet would, as well.

But beyond that, it depends on so much else. Availability of food source. Nuances in when its eaten (high or low branches, as young or in mature forms...). Differences in hunting/eating behaviour (scavenging v hunting),...

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