Classification of Metapopulation Models

There is no sharp distinction between models for single populations and metapopulations. Classic singlepopulation models assume that individuals interact equally with all other individuals (panmictic population structure). In the other extreme are classic metapopulation models, such as the Levins model described in this article, which assume a set of dynamically independent local populations. But there are also intermediate models. A model involving the spatial coordinates of individuals and limited spatial range of interactions and movements can be viewed as a detailed population model, or it can be considered as a metapopulation model at the landscape level. Such individual-based models for continuous space may exhibit spatial variation in habitat quality and thereby offer a very general framework for population modeling, but their potential to address relevant questions about metapopulation ecology remains largely unstudied and they are not covered in this article. Other models include a description of the genetic structure of the metapopulation, and models may be used to analyze evolutionary processes in metapopulations. These models too are beyond the scope of this article, which is restricted to ecological metapopulation models.

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