Local perturbations do not affect stability of laboratory fruitfly metapopulations

Dey, Sutirth ; Joshi, Amitabh (2007) Local perturbations do not affect stability of laboratory fruitfly metapopulations PloS ONE, 2 (2). e233-e241. ISSN 1932-6203

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Official URL: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.137...

Related URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0000233


Background: A large number of theoretical studies predict that the dynamics of spatially structured populations (metapopulations) can be altered by constant perturbations to local population size. However, these studies presume large metapopulations inhabiting noise-free, zero-extinction environments, and their predictions have never been empirically verified. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here we report an empirical study on the effects of localized perturbations on global dynamics and stability, using fruitfly metapopulations in the laboratory. We find that constant addition of individuals to a particular subpopulation in every generation stabilizes that subpopulation locally, but does not have any detectable effect on the dynamics and stability of the metapopulation. Simulations of our experimental system using a simple but widely applicable model of population dynamics were able to recover the empirical findings, indicating the generality of our results. We then simulated the possible consequences of perturbing more subpopulations, increasing the strength of perturbations, and varying the rate of migration, but found that none of these conditions were expected to alter the outcomes of our experiments. Finally, we show that our main results are robust to the presence of local extinctions in the metapopulation. Conclusions/Significance: Our study shows that localized perturbations are unlikely to affect the dynamics of real metapopulations, a finding that has cautionary implications for ecologists and conservation biologists faced with the problem of stabilizing unstable metapopulations in nature.

Item Type:Article
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ID Code:14766
Deposited On:12 Nov 2010 13:40
Last Modified:16 May 2016 23:44

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