We investigate the impact of Allee effect and dispersal on the long-term evolution of a population in a patchy environment. Our main focus is on whether a population already established in one patch either successfully invades an adjacent empty patch or undergoes a global extinction. Our study is based on the combination of analytical and numerical results for both a deterministic two-patch model and a stochastic counterpart. The deterministic model has either two, three or four attractors. The existence of a regime with exactly three attractors only appears when patches have distinct Allee thresholds. In the presence of weak dispersal, the analysis of the deterministic model shows that a high-density and a low-density populations can coexist at equilibrium in nearby patches, whereas the analysis of the stochastic model indicates that this equilibrium is metastable, thus leading after a large random time to either a global expansion or a global extinction. Up to some critical dispersal, increasing the intensity of the interactions leads to an increase of both the basin of attraction of the global extinction and the basin of attraction of the global expansion. Above this threshold, for both the deterministic and the stochastic models, the patches tend to synchronize as the intensity of the dispersal increases. This results in either a global expansion or a global extinction. For the deterministic model, there are only two attractors, while the stochastic model no longer exhibits a metastable behavior. In the presence of strong dispersal, the limiting behavior is entirely determined by the value of the Allee thresholds as the global population size in the deterministic and the stochastic models evolves as dictated by their single-patch counterparts. For all values of the dispersal parameter, Allee effects promote global extinction in terms of an expansion of the basin of attraction of the extinction equilibrium for the deterministic model and an increase of the probability of extinction for the stochastic model.
Allee effectDeterministic modelStochastic modelExtinctionExpansionInvasionBistabilityBasin of attractionMetastability