Theoretical Ecology

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 105–117 | Cite as

Conditional dispersal, clines, and the evolution of dispersiveness

  • Paul R. ArmsworthEmail author
Original paper


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 



I am grateful to many colleagues in the Departments of Animal and Plant Sciences in Sheffield and Biological Sciences in Stanford, particularly J. Roughgarden, for helpful suggestions and discussions.

Supplementary material

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


  1. Alleaume-Benharira M, Pen IR, Ronce O (2006) Geographical patterns of adaptation within a species’ range: interactions between drift and gene flow. J Evol Biol 19:203–215PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Armsworth PR (2008) The evolution of nonrandom movement along clines. Evol Ecol Res 10:967–985Google Scholar
  3. Armsworth PR, Roughgarden JE (2005a) The impact of directed versus random movement on population dynamics and biodiversity patterns. Am Nat 165:449–465PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Armsworth PR, Roughgarden JE (2005b) Disturbance induces the contrasting evolution of reinforcement and dispersiveness in directed and random movers. Evolution 59:2083–2096PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Armsworth PR, Roughgarden JE (2008) The structure of clines with fitness dependent dispersal. Am Nat 172:648–657PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Balkau BJ, Feldman MW (1973) Selection for migration modification. Genetics 74:171–174PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Billiard S, Lenormand T (2005) Evolution of migration under kin selection and local adaptation. Evolution 59:13–23PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Bowler DE, Benton TG (2005) Causes and consequences of animal dispersal strategies: relating individual behaviour to spatial dynamics. Biol Rev 80:205–225PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Caillaud MC, Boutin M, Braendle C, Simon JC (2002) A sex-linked locus controls wing polymorphism in males of the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum (Harris). Heredity 89:346–352PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chen X, Hambrock R, Lou Y (2008) Evolution of conditional dispersal: a reaction-diffusion-advection model. J Math Biol 57:361–386PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cruz R, Vilas C, Mosquera J, Garcia C (2004) Relative contribution of dispersal and natural selection to the maintenance of a hybrid zone in Littorina. Evolution 58:2734–2746PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Doligez B, Cadet C, Danchin E, Boulinier T (2003) When to use public information for breeding habitat selection? The role of environmental predictability and density dependence. Anim Behav 66:973–988CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Edelaar P, Siepielski AM, Clobert J (2008) Matching habitat choice causes directed gene flow: a neglected dimension in evolution and ecology. Evolution 62:2462–2472PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ehrlich PR (1965) The population biology of the butterfly, Euphydryas editha. II. The structure of the Jasper Ridge colony. Evolution 19:327–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Erlandsson J, Rolan-Alvarez E, Johannesson K (1998) Migratory differences between ecotypes of the snail Littorina saxatilis on Galician rocky shores. Evol Ecol 12:913–924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fisher RA (1950) Gene frequencies in a cline determined by selection and diffusion. Biometrics 6:353–361PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gandon S, Michalakis Y (2001) Multiple causes of the evolution of dispersal. In: Clobert J, Danchin E, Dhondt AA, Nichols JD (eds) Dispersal. Oxford University, Oxford, pp 155–167Google Scholar
  18. Garant D, Kruuk LEB, Wilkin TA, McCleery RH, Sheldon BC (2005) Evolution driven by differential dispersal within a wild bird population. Nature 433:60–65PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Garcia-Ramos G, Kirkpatrick M (1997) Genetic models of adaptation and gene flow in peripheral populations. Evolution 51:21–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Haag CR, Saastamoinen M, Marden JH, Hanski I (2005) A candidate locus for variation in dispersal rate in a butterfly metapopulation. Proc R Soc Lond B 272:2449–2456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hadany L, Eshel I, Motro U (2004) No place like home: competition, dispersal and complex adaptation. J Evol Biol 17:1328–1336PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Haldane JBS (1948) The theory of a cline. J Genet 48:277–284PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hamilton WD, May RM (1977) Dispersal in stable habitats. Nature 269:578–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hanski I, Alho J, Moilanen A (2000) Estimating the parameters of survival and migration of individuals in metapopulations. Ecology 81:239–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hastings A (1983) Can spatial variation alone lead to selection for dispersal? Theor Popul Biol 24:244–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Heino M, Metz JAJ, Kaitala V (1998) The enigma of frequency-dependent selection. Trends Ecol Evol 13:367–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Higgins K, Lynch M (2001) Metapopulation extinction caused by mutation accumulation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 98:2928–2933PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Holt RD (1985) Population dynamics in two-patch environments—some anomalous consequences of an optimal habitat distribution. Theor Popul Biol 28:181–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Holt RD, Barfield M, Gomulkiewicz R (2004) Temporal variation can facilitate niche evolution in harsh environments. Am Nat 164:187–200PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ims RA, Hjermann DO (2001) Condition-dependent dispersal. In: Clobert J, Danchin E, Dhondt AA, Nichols JD (eds) Dispersal. Oxford University, Oxford, pp 203–216Google Scholar
  31. Kirkpatrick M, Ravigne V (2002) Speciation by natural and sexual selection: models and experiments. Am Nat 159:S22–S35PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kokko H, Sutherland WJ (2001) Ecological traps in changing environments: ecological and evolutionary consequences of a behaviourally mediated Allee effect. Evol Ecol Res 3:537–551Google Scholar
  33. Kun A, Scheuring I (2006) The evolution of density-dependent dispersal in a noisy spatial population model. Oikos 115:308–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lenormand T (2002) Gene flow and the limits to natural selection. Trends Ecol Evol 17:183–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Liberman U, Feldman MW (1989) The reduction principle for genetic modifiers of the migration rate. In: Feldman MW (ed) Mathematical evolutionary theory. Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp 111–137Google Scholar
  36. MacCallum CJ, Nurnberger B, Barton NH, Szymura JM (1998) Habitat preference in the Bombina hybrid zone in Croatia. Evolution 52:227–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. May RM, Endler JA, McMurtrie RE (1975) Gene frequency clines in the presence of selection opposed by gene flow. Am Nat 109:659–676CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McPeek MA, Holt RD (1992) The evolution of dispersal in spatially and temporally varying environments. Am Nat 140:1010–1027CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ovaskainen O (2004) Habitat-specific movement parameters estimated using mark-recapture data and a diffusion model. Ecology 85:242–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Poethke HJ, Hovestadt T (2002) Evolution of density- and patch-size-dependent dispersal rates. Proc R Soc Lond B 269:637–645CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Roff DA, Fairbairn DJ (1991) Wing dimorphisms and the evolution of migratory polymorphisms among the Insecta. Am Zool 31:243–251Google Scholar
  42. Ronce O (2007) How does it feel to be like a rolling stone? Ten questions about dispersal evolution. Annu Rev Ecol Evol System 38:231–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ross CL, Harrison RG (2002) A fine-scale spatial analysis of the mosaic hybrid zone between Gryllus firmus and Gryllus pennsylvanicus. Evolution 56:2296–2312PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Roughgarden J (1979) Theory of population genetics and evolutionary ecology: an introduction. Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle RiverGoogle Scholar
  45. Ruxton GD, Rohani P (1998) Fitness-dependent dispersal in metapopulations and its consequences for persistence and synchrony. J Anim Ecol 67:530–539Google Scholar
  46. Singer MC, Hanski I (2004) Dispersal behavior and evolutionary metapopulation dynamics. In: Ehrlich PR, Hanski I (eds) On the wings of the checkerspots: a model system for population biology. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 181–198Google Scholar
  47. Singer MC, Ng D, Thomas CD (1988) Heritability of oviposition preference and its relationship to offspring performance within a single insect population. Evolution 42:977–985CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Singer MC, Thomas CD (1996) Evolutionary responses of a butterfly metapopulation to human- and climate-caused environmental variation. Am Nat 148:S9–S39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Singer MC, Thomas CD, Billington HL, Parmesan C (1994) Correlates of speed of evolution of host preference in a set of twelve populations of the butterfly Euphydryas editha. Ecoscience 1:107–114Google Scholar
  50. Slatkin M (1973) Gene flow and selection in a cline. Genetics 75:733–756PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Szymura JM (1993) Analysis of hybrid zones with Bombina. In: Harrison RG (ed) Hybrid zones and the evolutionary process. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 261–289Google Scholar
  52. Szymura JM, Barton NH (1991) The genetic structure of the hybrid zone between the fire-bellied toads Bombina bombina and B. variegata: comparison between transects and between loci. Evolution 45:237–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tallmon DA, Luikart G, Waples RS (2004) The alluring simplicity and complex reality of genetic rescue. Trends Ecol Evol 19:489–496PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Thomas CD, Singer MC (1987) Variation in host preference affects movement patterns within a butterfly population. Ecology 68:1262–1267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Travis JMJ, Murrell DJ, Dytham C (1999) The evolution of density-dependent dispersal. Proc R Soc Lond B 266:1837–1842CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations