Measuring Metapopulation Dynamics

Science  21 Apr 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5772, pp. 333
DOI: 10.1126/science.312.5772.333n

Natural populations of organisms are not uniformly distributed, but rather are clustered into smaller subpopulations connected by dispersal and migration. Dey and Joshi (p. 434) tested theoretical predictions regarding the effects of dispersal rate on the size, dynamics, and stability of metapopulations in a laboratory system of replicated metapopulations of Drosophila. Low levels of dispersal induced asynchrony among subpopulations and led to more stable metapopulation dynamics, whereas higher rates led to subpopulation synchrony and more unstable dynamics at the metapopulation level. Most of the experimental observations could be captured by simulations that used a simple, non-species-specific model of population growth.

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