, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 57-70

Population dynamics and habitat connectivity affecting the spatial spread of populations – a simulation study

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Abstract

In this paper we show how the spatialconfiguration of habitat quality affects the spatial spread of apopulation in a heterogeneous environment. Our main result is thatfor species with limited dispersal ability and a landscape withisolated habitats, stepping stone patches of habitat greatlyincrease the ability of species to disperse. Our results showthat increasing reproductive rate first enables and thenaccelerates spatial spread, whereas increasing the connectivity has aremarkable effect only in case of low reproductive rates. Theimportance of landscape structure varied according to thedemographic characteristics of the population. To show this wepresent a spatially explicit habitat model taking into accountpopulation dynamics and habitat connectivity. The population dynamicsare based on a matrix projection model and are calculated on eachcell of a regular lattice. The parameters of the Leslie matrix dependon habitat suitability as well as density. Dispersal between adjacentcells takes place either unrestricted or with higher probability inthe direction of a higher habitat quality (restricted dispersal).Connectivity is maintained by corridors and stepping stones ofoptimal habitat quality in our fragmented model landscape containinga mosaic of different habitat suitabilities. The cellular automatonmodel serves as a basis for investigating different combinations ofparameter values and spatial arrangements of cells with high and lowquality.

This revised version was published online in May 2005 with corrections to the Cover Date.