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Am Nat. 1997 Oct;150(4):425-45. doi: 10.1086/286074.

Balanced dispersal between spatially varying local populations: an alternative to the source-sink model.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, Biomedical Sciences Building, Bassett Crescent East, Southampton SO16 7PX, United Kingdom.


Analysis of long-term monitoring data on breeding collared flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis Temm.) has revealed equal numbers of immigrations and emigrations between neighboring populations of different sizes. Dispersal patterns were close to patterns simulated under a conditional dispersal and with populations near saturation level. Local growth rates of the 11 sites were computed and did not support the idea that the observed balanced exchanges could be the result of a source-sink system. This is the first empirical evidence for a system of discrete habitat patches with component populations that exist as simultaneous sources and sinks to their neighbors. Dispersal propensities were inversely related to population sizes, which showed little variation in time. These results are consistent with recent modeling of dispersal as an evolutionarily stable strategy, and they demonstrate that dispersal can be an active phenomenon requiring neither the dominance hierarchies nor the temporal instability generally invoked by ecological and population genetic models. We note a parallel to the concept of Ideal Free Distributions and discuss implications for the evolution of dispersal mechanisms in fragmented populations.

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