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Metapopulation persistence in dynamic landscapes: the role of dispersal distance


  • Karin Johst,

  • Roland Brandl,

  • Sabine Eber

K. Johst, UFZ – Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig-Halle Ltd., Dept of Ecological Modelling, P.O. Box 500135, D-04301 Leipzig, Germany, ( – R. Brandl, Philipps Univ. of Marburg, Dept of Biology, Karl-von-Frisch-Str. 1, D-35032 Marburg, Germany. – S. Eber, Univ. of Göttingen, Dept of Agroecology, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany.


Species associated with transient habitats need efficient dispersal strategies to ensure their regional survival. Using a spatially explicit metapopulation model, we studied the effect of the dispersal range on the persistence of a metapopulation as a function of the local population and landscape dynamics (including habitat patch destruction and subsequent regeneration). Our results show that the impact of the dispersal range depends on both the local population and patch growth. This is due to interactions between dispersal and the dynamics of patches and populations via the number of potential dispersers. In general, long-range dispersal had a positive effect on persistence in a dynamic landscape compared to short-range dispersal. Long-range dispersal increases the number of couplings between the patches and thus the colonisation of regenerated patches. However, long-range dispersal lost its advantage for long-term persistence when the number of potential dispersers was low due to small population growth rates and/or small patch growth rates. Its advantage also disappeared with complex local population dynamics and in a landscape with clumped patch distribution.