Disturbing Results for Metapopulations

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Science  12 Sep 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5639, pp. 1439
DOI: 10.1126/science.301.5639.1439c

Metapopulation biology concerns the dynamics of subdivided populations of species inhabiting a landscape broken up into discrete patches. Levins' classic patch-dynamics model has provided the main framework for understanding the colonization and extinction of populations in a landscape of habitat islands. By a simple adjustment of parameters, Hastings (p. 1525; see the Perspective by Dobson) extends the classic model to allow patch quality to vary with patch age (as would be the case, for example, in the succession of species after a disturbance such as fire). The author shows how disturbances that reduce mean patch age could cause a metapopulation to go extinct.

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