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Am Nat. 2004 Nov;164(5):E130-53. Epub 2004 Sep 22.

Effects of matrix heterogeneity on animal dispersal: from individual behavior to metapopulation-level parameters.

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Department of Ecological Modeling, Umweltforschungszentrum-Centre for Environmental Research, PF 500136, D-04301 Leipzig, Germany.


Mounting theoretical and empirical evidence shows that matrix heterogeneity may have contrasting effects on metapopulation dynamics by contributing to patch isolation in nontrivial ways. We analyze the movement properties during interpatch dispersal in a metapopulation of Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus). On a daily temporal scale, lynx habitat selection defines two types of matrix habitats where individuals may move: open and dispersal habitats (avoided and used as available, respectively). There was a strong and complex impact of matrix heterogeneity on movement properties at several temporal scales (hourly and daily radiolocations and the entire dispersal event). We use the movement properties on the hourly temporal scale to build a simulation model to reconstruct individual dispersal events. The two most important parameters affecting model predictions at both the individual (daily) and metapopulation scales were related to the movement capacity (number of movement steps per day and autocorrelation in dispersal habitat) followed by the parameters representing the habitat selection in the matrix. The model adequately reproduced field estimates of population-level parameters (e.g., interpatch connectivity, maximum and final dispersal distances), and its performance was clearly improved when including the effect of matrix heterogeneity on movement properties. To assume there is a homogeneous matrix results in large errors in the estimate of interpatch connectivity, especially for close patches separated by open habitat or corridors of dispersal habitat, showing how important it is to consider matrix heterogeneity when it is present. Movement properties affect the interaction of dispersing individuals with the landscape and can be used as a mechanistic representation of dispersal at the metapopulation level. This is so when the effect of matrix heterogeneity on movement properties is evaluated under biologically meaningful spatial and temporal scales.

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