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Am Nat. 2003 Apr;161(4):631-40. Epub 2003 Mar 28.

Local extinction and the evolution of dispersal rates: causes and correlations.

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  • 1University of W├╝rzburg, Ecological Field Station, Glash├╝ttenstrasse 5, D-96181 Rauhenebrach, Germany. poethke@biozentrum.uni-wuerzburg.de


We present the results of individual-based simulation experiments on the evolution of dispersal rates of organisms living in metapopulations. We find conflicting results regarding the relationship between local extinction rate and evolutionarily stable (ES) dispersal rate depending on which principal mechanism causes extinction: if extinction is caused by environmental catastrophes eradicating local populations, we observe a positive correlation between extinction and ES dispersal rate; if extinction is a consequence of stochastic local dynamics and environmental fluctuations, the correlation becomes ambiguous; and in cases where extinction is caused by dispersal mortality, a negative correlation between local extinction rate and ES dispersal rate emerges. We conclude that extinction rate, which both affects and is affected by dispersal rates, is not an ideal predictor for optimal dispersal rates.

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