Evaluating effects of low quality habitats on regional population growth in Peromyscus leucopus: Insights from field-parameterized spatial matrix models
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- Grear, J.S. & Burns, C.E. Landscape Ecol (2007) 22: 45. doi:10.1007/s10980-006-9007-0
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Due to complex population dynamics and source–sink metapopulation processes, animal fitness sometimes varies across landscapes in ways that cannot be deduced from simple density patterns. In this study, we examine spatial patterns in fitness using a combination of intensive field-based analyses of demography and migration and spatial matrix models of white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) population dynamics. We interpret asymptotic population growth rates from these spatial models as fitness-based measures of habitat-quality and use elasticity analysis to further explore model behavior and the roles of migration. In addition, we compare population growth rates at the spatial scale of single habitats and the landscape-level scale at which these habitats are assembled. To this end, we employ emerging techniques in multi-scale estimation of demography and movement and recently described vec-permutation methods for spatial matrix notation and analysis. Our findings indicate that the loss of low quality habitats or reductions in movement from these habitats into higher quality areas could negatively affect landscape-level population fitness.