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Patch Size and Population Density: the Effect of Immigration Behavior

Jeff Bowman, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Naomi Cappuccino, Carleton University
Lenore Fahrig, Carleton University


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Many habitat fragmentation experiments make the prediction that animal population density will be positively related to fragment, or patch, size. The mechanism that is supposed to result in this prediction is unclear, but several recent reviews have demonstrated that population density often is negatively related to patch size. Immigration behavior is likely to have an important effect on population density for species that do not show strong edge effects, for species that have low emigration rates, and during short-term habitat fragmentation experiments. We consider the effect that different kinds of immigration behaviors will have on population density and we demonstrate that only a minority of possible scenarios produce positive density vs. patch size relationships. More commonly, these relationships are expected to be negative. Our results demonstrate the importance of considering autecological mechanisms, such as immigration behavior, when developing the predictions that we test in habitat fragmentation or other experiments.

Key words

colonization, connectivity, dispersal, edge, emigration, experiment, fragmentation, immigration, individuals-area relationships, insular, island biogeography, landscape

Copyright © 2002 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087