, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 63-75

Animal movements and population dynamics in heterogeneous landscapes

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Organisms respond to environmental heterogeneity at different scales and in different ways. These differences are consequences of how the movement characteristics of animals—their movement rates, directionality, turning frequencies, and turning angles—interact with patch and boundary features in landscape mosaics. The interactions of movement patterns with landscape features in turn produce spatial patterns in individual space-use, population dynamics and dispersion, gene flow, and the redistribution of nutrients and other materials. We describe several theoretical approaches for modeling the diffusion, foraging behavior, and population dynamics of animals in heterogeneous landscapes, including: (1) scaling relationships derived from percolation theory and fractal geometry, (2) extensions of traditional patch-based metapopulation models, and (3) individual-based, spatially explicit models governed by local rules. We conclude by emphasizing the need to couple theoretical models with empirical studies and the usefulness of ‘microlandscape’ investigations.