Metapopulation Models for Two or More Species

Species living in fragmented landscapes interact with other species. Metapopulation models have been constructed for competing species and for prey and predator inhabiting the same patch network. This has led to several important results. For instance, a species with a high colonization rate may coexist at the landscape level with a species that is a superior competitor locally, essentially because the former species finds a temporary refuge in those patches that have not yet been colonized by the superior competitor. Similarly, a prey that is driven to extinction locally may persist in a network of habitat patches if it has a sufficiently high colonization rate. Spatially restricted range of movements and ecological interactions may give rise to strongly aggregated spatial distributions of interacting species in the absence of any environmental heterogeneity, which has been studied with continuous-space and discrete-space (lattice) models. The latter are conceptually related to metapopulation models, especially if one assumes that lattice cells (representing habitat patches) are occupied by local populations rather than by single individuals. Spatial pattern formation due to ecological interactions is less likely to be a dominant feature in metapopulation models for fragmented landscapes, because the fixed spatial variation in habitat quality strongly constrains (meta)population dynamics.

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