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Trends Ecol Evol. 1996 Aug;11(8):326-30.

Sources and sinks in population biology.

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  • 1Paula Dias is at Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, CNRS, BP 5051, F-34033 Montpellier cedex 1, France.


The various habitats inhabited by a given species are never of the same quality. When demographic models take into account this habitat heterogeneity, the source-sink concept naturally emerges: a local demographic surplus arises in good quality habitats (source), and a local demographic deficit occurs in habitats of poor quality (sink). Within a landscape, a permanent migration of propagules or individuals from source to sink habitats may lead to a stabilization of the overall demographic system. This simple situation, explored in the recent literature, has surprising properties. In particular, it requires a change in our view of classical concepts such as ecological niche and carrying capacity, it can explain the existence and persistence of local maladaptation and it can improve conservation practice.

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