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Theoretical models of species’ borders: single species approaches


  • Robert D. Holt,

  • Timothy H. Keitt,

  • Mark A. Lewis,

  • Brian A. Maurer,

  • Mark L. Taper

R. D. Holt, Dept of Zoology, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-8525, USA ( – T. H. Keitt, Integrative Biology, Univ. of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA. – M. A. Lewis, Dept of Mathematics, Univ. of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA. Present address for M. A. L., Dept. of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Univ. of Alberta, Calgary, AB T6GZG2, Canada. – B. A. Maurer, Dept of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI 48823, USA. – M. L. Taper, Dept of Ecology, Montana State Univ., Bozeman, MT 59717, USA.


The range of potential mechanisms limiting species' distributions in space is nearly as varied and complex as the diversity of life itself. Yet viewed abstractly, a species' border is a geographic manifestation of a species' demographic responses to a spatially and temporally varying world. Population dynamic models provide insight into the different routes by which range limits can arise owing to gradients in demographic rates. In a metapopulation context, for example, range limits may be caused by gradients in extinction rates, colonization rates or habitat availability. We have consider invasion models in uniform and heterogeneous environments as a framework for understanding non-equilibrium range limits, and explore conditions under which invasions may cease to spread leaving behind a stationary range limit. We conclude that non-equilibrial range dynamics need further theoretical and empirical attention.

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