Metapopulation dynamics across gradients - The relation between colonization and extinction in shaping the range edge

Beáta Oborny, Jeromos Vukov, Gábor Csányi, Géza Meszéna

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12 Citations (Scopus)


We study the dynamics of a metapopulation in which the rates of colonization and/or extinction change along an environmental gradient. Spatially explicit simulations are applied to compare two cases: in parent-dependent colonization (PDC) the rate of colonization is limited by the production of new individuals; in offspring-dependent colonization (ODC) it is limited by the success of establishment of the offspring. Thus, PDC depends on the quality of the parent's site, while ODC is dependent on the offspring's site. We combine PDC and ODC in a spatially implicit model. We study the steady-state distribution of a metapopulation, and ask whether the local densities of occupied sites at each position x along the gradient could be predicted from the local rates of colonization c(x) and extinction e(x). This prediction is not trivial, since the sites are connected, enabling a flow of individuals from more favorable to less favorable sites. The results show that at ODC a single parameter, c(x)/e(x), is sufficient for the prediction. Therefore, different species and geographic regions can be directly compared by appropriate rescaling: choosing the local average lifetime of occupancy, 1/e(x), for a time unit at each point along the gradient. This permits generalizations about the shape of range edges, and can help to predict the position of the boundary of a species' distribution. At PDC, rescaling is not possible: the whole profile of c(x) and e(x) along the gradient has to be taken into consideration. Nevertheless, rescaling gives a good approximation when the parent-dependent component of colonization does not change abruptly across space.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1453-1460
Number of pages8
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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