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Generalizing Levins metapopulation model in explicit space: Models of intermediate complexity

Journal article
Authors M. Roy
Karin C. Harding
R. D. Holt
Published in Journal of Theoretical Biology
Volume 255
Issue 1
Pages 152-161
ISSN 0022-5193
Publication year 2008
Published at Linnaeus Centre for Marine Evolutionary Biology (CEMEB)
Department of Marine Ecology
Pages 152-161
Language en
Keywords allee effect, rescue effect, anti-rescue effect, spatial clustering, power law, range limit, theoretical-models, self-organization, species borders, dynamics, extinction, persistence, conservation, disturbance, signatures, patterns
Subject categories Biological Sciences


A recent study [Harding and McNamara, 2002. A unifying framework for metapopulation dynamics. Am. Nat. 160, 173-185] presented a unifying framework for the classic Levins metapopulation model by incorporating several realistic biological processes, such as the Allee effect, the Rescue effect and the Anti-rescue effect, via appropriate modifications of the two basic functions of colonization and extinction rates. Here we embed these model extensions on a spatially explicit framework. We consider population dynamics on a regular grid, each site of which represents a patch that is either Occupied or empty, and with spatial coupling by neighborhood dispersal. While broad qualitative similarities exist between the spatially explicit models and their spatially implicit (mean-field) counterparts, there are also important differences that result from the details of local Processes. Because of localized dispersal, spatial correlation develops among the dynamics of neighboring populations that decays with distance between patches. The extent of this correlation at equilibrium differs among the metapopulation types, depending on which processes prevail in the colonization and extinction dynamics. These differences among dynamical processes become manifest in the spatial pattern and distribution of "clusters" of occupied patches. Moreover, metapopulation dynamics along a smooth gradient of habitat availability show significant differences in the spatial pattern at the range limit. The relevance of these results to the dynamics of disease spread in metapopulations is discussed. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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