Royal Society Publishing

Synchronous dynamics and rates of extinction in spatially structured populations

Mikko Heino, Veijo Kaitala, Esa Ranta, Jan Lindström


We explore extinction rates using a spatially arranged set of subpopulations obeying Ricker dynamics. The population system is subjected to dispersal of individuals among the subpopulations as well as to local and global disturbances. We observe a tight positive correlation between global extinction rate and the level of synchrony in dynamics among thesubpopulations. Global disturbances and to a lesser extent, migration, are capable of synchronizing the temporal dynamics of the subpopulations over a rather wide span of the population growth rate r: Local noise decreases synchrony, as does increasing distance among the subpopulations. Synchrony also levels off with increasing r: in the chaotic region, subpopulations almost invariably behave asynchronously. We conclude that it is asynchrony that reduces the probability of global extinctions, not chaos as such: chaos is a special case only. The relationship between global extinction rate, synchronous dynamics and population growth rate is robust to changes in dispersal rates and ranges.

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