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Theor Popul Biol. 2003 Nov;64(3):315-30.

Impacts of environmental variability in open populations and communities: "inflation" in sink environments.

Author information

1
Department of Zoology, 223 Bartram Hall, P.O. Box 118525, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-8525, USA. rdholt@zoo.ufl.edu

Abstract

Ecological communities are typically open to the immigration and emigration of individuals, and also variable through time. In this paper we argue that interesting and potentially important effects arise when one splices together spatial fluxes and temporal variability. The particular system we examine is a sink habitat, where a species faces deterministic extinction but is rescued by recurrent immigration. We have shown, using a simple extension of the canonical exponential growth model in a time-varying environment, that variation "inflates" the average abundance of sink populations. We can analytically quantify the magnitude of this effect in several special cases (square-wave temporal variation and Gaussian stochastic variation). The inflationary effect can be large in "intermittent" sinks (where there are periods with positive growth), and when temporal variation is strongly autocorrelated. The effect appears to be robust to incorporation of demographic stochasticity (due to discrete birth-death-immigration processes), and to direct density dependence. With discrete generations, however, one can observe a wide range of effects of temporal variation, including depression as well as inflation. We argue that the inflationary effect of temporal variation in sink habitats can have important implications for community structure, because it can increase the average abundance (and hence local impacts) of species that on average are being excluded from a local community. We illustrate the latter effect using a familiar model of exploitative competition for a single limiting resource. We demonstrate that temporal variation can reverse local competitive dominance, even to the extent of allowing an inferior competitor maintained by immigration to exclude a competing species that would be locally superior in a constant environment.

PMID:
14522172
DOI:
10.1016/s0040-5809(03)00087-x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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