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Keywords:

  • Metapopulation;
  • colonization;
  • extinction;
  • population turnover;
  • island biogeography;
  • patchy populations;
  • landscape ecology;
  • conservation biology

We review the early development of metapopulation ideas, which culminated in the well-known model by Levins in 1969. We present a survey of metapopulation terminology and outline the kinds of studies that have been conducted on single-species and multispecies metapopulations. Metapopulation studies have important conceptual links with the equilibrium theory of island biogeography and with studies on the dynamics of species living in patchy environments. Metapopulation ideas play an increasingly important role in landscape ecology and conservation biology.