Evol Ecol Res 12: 249-258 (2010)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Patch quality and landscape connectivity effects on patch population size: implications for metapopulation sizes and studies of landscape value

Catherine A. Lindell1 and Brian A. Maurer2

1Department of Zoology/Center for Global Change and Earth Observations and 2Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan Sate University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA

Correspondence: B.A. Maurer, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, 13 Natural Resources Building, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.
e-mail: maurerb@msu.edu


Question: How do patch population sizes vary as a function of patch quality and landscape connectivity within heterogeneous landscapes?

Model: We developed a population dynamics model to compare relative population size within patches as a function of patch quality and landscape connectivity, defining these variables from an organism’s perspective. We used differences between birth and death rates as measures of patch quality and immigration rates into patches as measures of landscape connectivity.

Results: An interaction between immigration and patch quality resulted in a more positive influence on population sizes in high-quality patches than in low- or intermediate-quality patches. We also found that patch quality had much greater positive effects on patch population size than immigration.

Predictions: For any given species, the proportion of high-quality patches in a landscape will be a more important determinant of metapopulation size than landscape connectivity. Thus landscapes with high proportions of high-quality patches will be of greater value to populations than landscapes with high connectivity and few high-quality patches. We present a predictive framework that can serve as a springboard for empirical work about metapopulation sizes, landscape value, and conservation strategies for species in heterogeneous landscapes.

Keywords: landscape connectivity, landscape value, metapopulation, patch population size, patch quality.

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