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J Evol Biol. 2003 Jan;16(1):143-53.

Evolution of dispersal in metapopulations with local density dependence and demographic stochasticity.

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Department of Mathematics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.


In this paper, we predict the outcome of dispersal evolution in metapopulations based on the following assumptions: (i) population dynamics within patches are density-regulated by realistic growth functions; (ii) demographic stochasticity resulting from finite population sizes within patches is accounted for; and (iii) the transition of individuals between patches is explicitly modelled by a disperser pool. We show, first, that evolutionarily stable dispersal rates do not necessarily increase with rates for the local extinction of populations due to external disturbances in habitable patches. Second, we describe how demographic stochasticity affects the evolution of dispersal rates: evolutionarily stable dispersal rates remain high even when disturbance-related rates of local extinction are low, and a variety of qualitatively different responses of adapted dispersal rates to varied levels of disturbance become possible. This paper shows, for the first time, that evolution of dispersal rates may give rise to monotonically increasing or decreasing responses, as well as to intermediate maxima or minima.

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