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Behavioral States Help Translate Dispersal Movements into Spatial Distribution Patterns of Floaters

María del Mar Delgado and Vincenzo Penteriani
The American Naturalist
Vol. 172, No. 4 (October 2008), pp. 475-485
DOI: 10.1086/590964
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/590964
Page Count: 11
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Behavioral States Help Translate Dispersal Movements into Spatial Distribution Patterns of Floaters
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Abstract

Abstract: Within the field of spatial ecology, it is important to study animal movements in order to better understand population dynamics. Dispersal is a nonlinear process through which different behavioral mechanisms could affect movement patterns. One of the most common approaches to analyzing the trajectories of organisms within patches is to use random‐walk models to describe movement features. These models express individual movements within a specific area in terms of random‐walk parameters in an effort to relate movement patterns to the distributions of organisms in space. However, only using the movement trajectories of individuals to predict the spatial spread of animal populations may not fit the complex distribution of individuals across heterogeneous environments. When we empirically tested the results from a random‐walk model (a residence index) used to predict the spatial equilibrium distribution of individuals, we found that the index severely underestimated the spatial spread of dispersing individuals. We believe this is because random‐walk models only account for the effects of environmental conditions on individual movements, completely overlooking the crucial influence of behavior changes over time. In the future, both aspects should be accounted for when predicting general rules of (meta)population abundance, distribution, and dynamics from patterns of animal movements.

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