, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 225-233

Landscape-Scale Spatial Population Dynamics in Human-Impacted Stream Systems

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The movement of individuals among populations can be critical in preventing local and landscape-scale species extinctions in systems exposed to human perturbation. Current understanding of spatial population dynamics in streams is largely limited to the reach scale and is therefore inadequate to address species response to spatially extensive perturbation. Using model simulations, I examined species response to perturbation in a drainage composed of multiple, hierarchically arranged stream-patches connected by in-stream and overland pathways of dispersal. Patch extinction probability, the proportion of initially occupied patches extinct after 25 years, was highly sensitive to the extent of species occupancy and perturbation within the drainage, longitudinal species distribution, perturbation decay rate and the covariance pattern of stochastic effects on colonization and extinction probabilities. Results of these simulations underscore the importance of identifying and preserving source populations and dispersal routes for stream species in human-impacted landscapes. They also highlight the vulnerability of headwater specialist taxa to anthropogenic perturbation, and the strong positive effect on species resilience of habitat rehabilitation when recolonization is possible. Efforts to conserve and manage stream species may be greatly improved by accounting for landscape-scale spatial population dynamics.