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Evolution of Dispersal Rates in Metapopulation Models: Branching and Cyclic Dynamics in Phenotype Space

Michael Doebeli and Graeme D. Ruxton
Evolution
Vol. 51, No. 6 (Dec., 1997), pp. 1730-1741
DOI: 10.2307/2410996
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410996
Page Count: 12
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Evolution of Dispersal Rates in Metapopulation Models: Branching and Cyclic Dynamics in Phenotype Space
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Abstract

We study the evolution of dispersal rates in a two patch metapopulation model. The local dynamics in each patch are given by difference equations, which, together with the rate of dispersal between the patches, determine the ecological dynamics of the metapopulation. We assume that phenotypes are given by their dispersal rate. The evolutionary dynamics in phenotype space are determined by invasion exponents, which describe whether a mutant can invade a given resident population. If the resident metapopulation is at a stable equilibrium, then selection on dispersal rates is neutral if the population sizes in the two patches are the same, while selection drives dispersal rates to zero if the local abundances are different. With non-equilibrium metapopulation dynamics, non-zero dispersal rates can be maintained by selection. In this case, and if the patches are ecologically identical, dispersal rates always evolve to values which induce synchronized metapopulation dynamics. If the patches are ecologically different, evolutionary branching into two coexisting dispersal phenotypes can be observed. Such branching can happen repeatedly, leading to polymorphisms with more than two phenotypes. If there is a cost to dispersal, evolutionary cycling in phenotype space can occur due to the dependence of selection pressures on the ecological attractor of the resident population, or because phenotypic branching alternates with the extinction of one of the branches. Our results extend those of Holt and McPeek (1996), and suggest that phenotypic branching is an important evolutionary process. This process may be relevant for sympatric speciation.

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