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Risky movement increases the rate of range expansion

Bartoń, K. A., Hovestadt, T., Phillips, B. L., Travis, J. M. J.
Proceedings 2012 v.279 no.1731 pp. 1194-1202
dispersal behavior, landscapes, models, population dynamics
The movement rules used by an individual determine both its survival and dispersal success. Here, we develop a simple model that links inter-patch movement behaviour with population dynamics in order to explore how individual dispersal behaviour influences not only its dispersal and survival, but also the population's rate of range expansion. Whereas dispersers are most likely to survive when they follow nearly straight lines and rapidly orient movement towards a non-natal patch, the most rapid rates of range expansion are obtained for trajectories in which individuals delay biasing their movement towards a non-natal patch. This result is robust to the spatial structure of the landscape. Importantly, in a set of evolutionary simulations, we also demonstrate that the movement strategy that evolves at an expanding front is much closer to that maximizing the rate of range expansion than that which maximizes the survival of dispersers. Our results suggest that if one of our conservation goals is the facilitation of range-shifting, then current indices of connectivity need to be complemented by the development and utilization of new indices providing a measure of the ease with which a species spreads across a landscape.