Theoretical Ecology

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 105–117

Conditional dispersal, clines, and the evolution of dispersiveness

Original paper

DOI: 10.1007/s12080-008-0032-2

Cite this article as:
Armsworth, P.R. Theor Ecol (2009) 2: 105. doi:10.1007/s12080-008-0032-2


Conditional dispersal, in which an individual’s decision over whether to disperse is a response to environmental conditions, features prominently in studies of dispersal evolution. Using models of clines, I examine how one widely discussed cost of dispersal, namely, that dispersal impedes local adaptation, changes with conditional dispersal and what this implies for dispersal evolution. I examine the consequences for dispersal evolution of the responsiveness of dispersal to the environment, the accuracy of any proximal cues that individuals rely upon to assess habitat quality, and whether dispersal responds to fitness itself or only to some fitness components (juvenile survivorship). All of the conditional dispersal behaviors that I consider weaken the indirect cost of dispersal inhibiting local adaptation. However, if individuals rely on imprecise cues to assess habitat quality and base dispersal decisions on juvenile survivorship, then conditional dispersal can incur additional costs by exacerbating overcrowding. Conditional dispersal initially leads to steeper clines in traits under direct selection, but when dispersiveness can itself evolve, conditional dispersal allows sigmoidal clines to persist long after those obtained with unconditional movement would become stepped.


Conditional dispersal Fitness dependent dispersal Cline Hybrid zone Evolution of dispersal Local adaptation 

Supplementary material

12080_2008_32_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (27 kb)
(PDF 26.6 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal and Plant SciencesUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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