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Classical metapopulation dynamics and eco‐evolutionary feedbacks in dendritic networks

Fronhofer, Emanuel A., Altermatt, Florian
Ecography 2017 v.40 no.12 pp. 1455-1466
community structure, extinction, landscapes, models, population dynamics, risk, topology
Eco‐evolutionary dynamics are now recognized to be highly relevant for population and community dynamics. However, the impact of evolutionary dynamics on spatial patterns, such as the occurrence of classical metapopulation dynamics, is less well appreciated. Here, we analyse the evolutionary consequences of spatial network connectivity and topology for dispersal strategies and quantify the eco‐evolutionary feedback in terms of altered classical metapopulation dynamics. We find that network properties, such as topology and connectivity, lead to predictable spatio‐temporal correlations in fitness expectations. These spatio‐temporally stable fitness patterns heavily impact evolutionarily stable dispersal strategies and lead to eco‐evolutionary feedbacks on landscape level metrics, such as the number of occupied patches, the number of extinctions and recolonizations as well as metapopulation extinction risk and genetic structure. Our model predicts that classical metapopulation dynamics are more likely to occur in dendritic networks, and especially in riverine systems, compared to other types of landscape configurations. As it remains debated whether classical metapopulation dynamics are likely to occur in nature at all, our work provides an important conceptual advance for understanding the occurrence of classical metapopulation dynamics which has implications for conservation and management of spatially structured populations.