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Keywords:

  • Dispersal;
  • kin competition;
  • metapopulation;
  • spatial heterogeneity;
  • stochasticity;
  • temporal change

Populations often experience variable conditions, both in time and space. Here we develop a novel theoretical framework to study the evolution of migration under the influence of spatially and temporally variable selection and genetic drift. First, we examine when polymorphism is maintained at a locus under heterogeneous selection, as a function of the pattern of spatial heterogeneity and the migration rate. In a second step, we study how levels of migration evolve under the joint action of kin competition and local adaptation at a polymorphic locus. This analysis reveals the existence of evolutionary bistability, whereby a low or a high migration rate may evolve depending on the initial conditions. Last, we relax several assumptions regarding selection heterogeneity commonly made in previous studies and explore the consequences of more complex spatial and temporal patterns of variability in selection on the evolution of migration. We found that small modifications in the pattern of environmental heterogeneity may have dramatic effects on the evolution of migration. This work highlights the importance of considering more general scenarios of environmental heterogeneity when studying the evolution of life-history traits in ecologically complex settings.