Forecasting spatially structured populations: the role of dispersal and scale

Xu, Cailin ; Boyce, Mark S. ; Gadgil, Madhav ; Nanjundiah, Vidyanand (2005) Forecasting spatially structured populations: the role of dispersal and scale Journal of Theoretical Biology, 233 (2). pp. 177-189. ISSN 0022-5193

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We forecasted spatially structured population models with complex dynamics, focusing on the effect of dispersal and spatial scale on the predictive capability of nonlinear forecasting (NLF). Dispersal influences NLF ability by its influence on population dynamics. For simple 2-cell models, when dispersal is small, our ability to predict abundance in subpopulations decreased and then increased with increasing dispersal. Spatial heterogeneity, dispersal manner, and environmental noise did not qualitatively change this result. But results are not clear for complex spatial configurations because of complicated dispersal interactions across subpopulations. Populations undergoing periodic fluctuations could be forecasted perfectly for all deterministic cases that we studied, but less reliably when environmental noise was incorporated. More importantly, for all models that we have examined, NLF was much worse at larger spatial scales as a consequence of the asynchronous dynamics of subpopulations when the dispersal rate was below some critical value. The only difference among models was the critical value of dispersal rate, which varied with growth rate, carrying capacity, mode of dispersal, and spatial configuration. These results were robust even when environmental noise was incorporated. Intermittency, common in the dynamics of spatially structured populations, lowered the predictive capability of NLF. Forecasting population behaviour is of obvious value in resource exploitation and conservation. We suggest that forecasting at local scales holds promise, whereas forecasting abundance at regional scales may yield poor results. Improved understanding of dispersal can enhance the management and conservation of natural resources, and may help us to understand resource-exploitation strategies employed by local indigenous humans.

Item Type:Article
Source:Copyright of this article belongs to Elsevier Science.
Keywords:Nonlinear Forecasting; Spatially Structured Populations; Dispersal; Spatial Scale; Resource Exploitation
ID Code:10323
Deposited On:04 Nov 2010 06:02
Last Modified:31 May 2011 11:41

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