Ecology Letters (2011) 14: 1025–1034
Evolutionary changes in natural populations are often so fast that the evolutionary dynamics may influence ecological population dynamics and vice versa. Here we construct an eco-evolutionary model for dispersal by combining a stochastic patch occupancy metapopulation model with a model for changes in the frequency of fast-dispersing individuals in local populations. We test the model using data on allelic variation in the gene phosphoglucose isomerase (Pgi), which is strongly associated with dispersal rate in the Glanville fritillary butterfly. Population-specific measures of immigration and extinction rates and the frequency of fast-dispersing individuals among the immigrants explained 40% of spatial variation in Pgi allele frequency among 97 local populations. The model clarifies the roles of founder events and gene flow in dispersal evolution and resolves a controversy in the literature about the consequences of habitat loss and fragmentation on the evolution of dispersal.