Migration, coherence and persistence in a fragmented landscape
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- Ben-Zion, Y., Fried, Y. & Shnerb, N.M. Theor Ecol (2012) 5: 481. doi:10.1007/s12080-011-0140-2
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The chance of local extinction is high during periods of small population size. Accordingly, a metapopulation made of local communities that support internal population cycling may face the threat of regional extinction if the local dynamics is coherent (synchronized). These systems achieve maximum sustainability at an intermediate level of migration that allows recolonization but prevents synchronization. Here we implement an individual-based simulation technique to examine the maximum persistence condition for a system of patch habitats connected by passive migration. The models discussed in this paper take into consideration realistic elements of metapopulations, such as migration cost, disordered spatial structure, frustration and environmental noise. It turns out that the state with maximum anti-correlation between neighboring patches is the most sustainable one, even in the presence of these complications. The results suggest, at least for small systems, a model independent conservation strategy: coherence between neighboring local communities has, in general, a negative impact, and population will benefit from intervention that increases anti-correlations.