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Oecologia. 2003 Apr;135(2):227-33. Epub 2003 Mar 4.

Patch quality and connectivity influence spatial dynamics in a dune wolfspider.

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  • 1Unit of Terrestrial Ecology, Department of Biology, Ghent University, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. dries.bonte@rug.ac.be

Abstract

The spatial population dynamics of the wolfspider Pardosa monticola, inhabiting patchily distributed grasslands in the Flemish coastal dunes of Belgium and Northern France were investigated with incidence function models using field survey data from 1998 and 2000. Vegetation height and patch size were related to habitat quality. Mark-recapture experiments revealed maximum cursorial dispersal distances of 280 m for moss dunes and 185 m for higher dune grassland. Higher shrub vegetation appeared to be dispersal barriers. These habitat-dependant cursorial distances and the theoretically estimated ballooning distance were included with patch distances into a connectivity index for both dispersal modes. Forward multiple regression indicated that patch occurrence was influenced by habitat quality and ballooning connectivity. Habitat quality and cursorial connectivity explained patterns in short-term colonisation. Extinction appeared to be stochastic and not related to habitat quality and connectivity. Genetic differentiation and variability was low. The discrepancy between the estimated low dispersal capacity and the indirect estimate of gene flow ( F(ST)) indicates that historical population dynamics and/or historical ballooning dispersal influence the genetic structure in this species.

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