Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Metapopulations and Island Geography theory

  1. Aug 18, 2009 #1
    How can the theory of metapopulations be related to Island Biogeography theory?

    Can we treat each population in a metapopulation as an island?

    Further, what is the significance of metapopulations anyway? Is it that they are more stable than individual populations themselves, since extinction of populations is balanced by recolonization?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 19, 2009 #2
    I think you are right. I would say that metapopulation dynamics are essentially the same as island biogeography theory, except that dispersal is much more limited in the case of islands (depending on the species). However, I think the dynamics should be the same, with some isolated populations (islands or otherwise) acting as sinks and others of sufficient size acting as sources. Indeed metapopulations are regarded as more stable for the reasons you have already mentioned, and there are numerous studies to back this. In a study by Holyoak and Lawler (Jrn. Animal Ecology 65-5,1996) it is demonstrated that divided subpopulations can allow predator and prey species to coexist indefinitely even with only rare dispersal events between populations, wheras extinction occurs relatively quickly in a single undivided population of equal size. Furthermore, mathematical models predict that communities with more complex interactions, such as those between a predator and two competing prey species, can also persist indefinitely in metapopulations. Chapter 11 in P.J. Morin's Community Ecology has a great introduction to this topic, if you can get a hold of it somewhere.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook