Theoretical Ecology

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 419–426 | Cite as

Range structure analysis: unveiling the internal structure of species’ ranges

  • Horacio SamaniegoEmail author
  • Pablo A. Marquet
Original Paper


Assessing risks of local extinction and shifts in species ranges are fundamental tasks in ecology and conservation. Most studies have focused either on the border of species’ range or on complex spatiotemporal dynamics of populations within the spatial distribution of species. The internal properties of species ranges, however, have received less attention due to a general lack of simple tools. We propose a novel approach within a metapopulation framework to study species ranges based on simple mathematical rules. We formulate and test a model of population fluctuations through space to identify key factors that regulate population density. We propose that spatial variability in species abundance reflects the interaction between temporal variability in population dynamics and the spatial variability of population parameters. This approach, that we call range structure analysis, integrates temporal and spatial properties to diagnose how each parameter contributes to species occupancy throughout its geographic range.


Range dynamics Population biology Species distribution Species’ border Metapopulation 



We thank Bruce T. Milne and Drew Allen for enlightening discussions. HS acknowledges the support of the US Department of Energy through the LANL/LDRD Program.

Supplementary material

12080_2013_177_MOESM1_ESM.doc (123 kb)
(DOC 123 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Nonlinear Studies, Los Alamos National LaboratoryLos AlamosUSA
  2. 2.Facultad de Ciencias Forestales y Recursos NaturalesUniversidad Austral de ChileValdiviaChile
  3. 3.Center for Advanced Studies in Ecology and Biodiversity and Departamento de EcologíaPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  4. 4.Institute of Ecology and BiodiversitySantiagoChile
  5. 5.The Santa Fe InstituteSanta FeUSA

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