Single-species metapopulation dynamics: concepts, models and observations



This paper outlines a conceptual and theoretical framework for single-species metapopulation dynamics based on the Levins model and its variants. The significance of the following factors to metapopulation dynamics are explored: evolutionary changes in colonization ability; habitat patch size and isolation; compensatory effects between colonization and extinction rates; the effect of immigration on local dynamics (the rescue effect); and heterogeneity among habitat patches. The rescue effect may lead to alternative stable equilibria in metapopulation dynamics. Heterogeneity among habitat patches may give rise to a bimodal equilibrium distribution of the fraction of patches occupied in an assemblage of species (the core-satellite distribution). A new model of incidence functions is described, which allows one to estimate species' colonization and extinction rates on islands colonized from mainland. Four distinct kinds of stochasticity affecting metapopulation dynamics are discussed with examples. The concluding section describes four possible scenarios of metapopulation extinction.