Evol Ecol Res 14: 1-29 (2012)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Evolution of dispersal in American pika (Ochotona princeps) metapopulations

Anne Seppänen1, Kalle Parvinen1 and John D. Nagy2,3

1Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland, 2Department of Life Science, Scottsdale Community College, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA and 3School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Correspondence: Anne Seppänen, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Turku, FIN-20014 Turku, Finland.
e-mail: anne.seppanen@utu.fi


Question: How might global climate change affect American pika (Ochotona princeps) metapopulation dynamics in the Great Basin, and how would such effects impact evolutionary dynamics of dispersal?

Mathematical methods: A structured, semi-discrete, mechanistic metapopulation model in which patch age is the structuring variable. We apply adaptive dynamics for the evolutionary analysis and derive an invasion fitness proxy for this model setting.

Key assumptions: Global climate change potentially alters the probability of patch extinction, dispersal costs, mortality, and fecundity. Births and immigration occur at discrete points in time. Deaths and emigration occur continuously over time. We model ‘average’ patch dynamics.

Results: Potentially viable metapopulations nevertheless can be destined for extinction via evolutionary suicide driven by climatic forcing. Specifically, selection can drive down dispersal rates in viable metapopulations, degrading colonization rates and increasing extinction rates to the point where the metapopulation crashes.

Conclusions: Exclusive reliance on ecological dynamics without this evolutionary perspective would miss the phenomenon identified here. This result arises in realistic ranges of parameters and therefore generates a testable hypothesis with potential applications to long-term metapopulation sustainability.

Keywords: adaptive dynamics, climate change, dispersal, evolutionary suicide, metapopulation, Ochotona princeps.

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