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J Theor Biol. 2007 Apr 7;245(3):553-63. Epub 2006 Oct 27.

How does intraspecific density regulation influence metapopulation synchrony and persistence?

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Department of Ecological Modelling, UFZ Leipzig-Halle GmbH, Permoserstrasse 15, 04301 Leipzig, Germany.


Intraspecific density regulation influences the synchronization of local population dynamics through dispersal. Spatial synchrony in turn may jeopardize metapopulation persistence. Joining results from previous studies suggests that spatial synchrony is highest at moderate over-compensation and is low at compensating and at very strong over-compensating density regulation. We scrutinize this supposition of a unimodal relationship using a process-based metapopulation model with explicit local population dynamics. We extend the usually studied range of density regulation to under-compensation and analyse resulting metapopulation persistence. We find peaks of spatial synchrony not only at over-compensatory but also under-compensatory density regulation and show that effects of local density compensation on synchrony follow a bimodal rather than unimodal relationship. Persistence of metapopulations however, shows a unimodal relationship with a broad plateau of high persistence from compensatory to over-compensatory density regulation. This range of high persistence comprises both levels of low and high spatial synchrony. Thus, not synchrony alone jeopardizes metapopulation persistence, but only in interplay with high local extinction risk. The functional forms of the relations of density compensation with spatial synchrony and persistence are robust to increases in dispersal mortality, landscape dynamics, or density dependence of dispersal. However, with each of these increases the maxima of spatial synchrony and persistence shift to higher over-compensation and levels of synchrony are reduced. Overall, for over-compensation high landscape connectivity has negative effects while for under-compensation connectivity affects persistence positively. This emphasizes the importance of species life-history traits for management decisions with regard to landscape connectivity: while dispersal corridors are essential for species with under-compensatory density regulation, they may have detrimental effects for endangered species with over-compensation.

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