Royal Society Publishing

Evolution of reduced dispersal mortality and ‘fat-tailed’ dispersal kernels in autocorrelated landscapes

Thomas Hovestadt, Stefan Messner, Joachim Poethke Hans


Models describing the evolution of dispersal strategies have mostly focused on the evolution of dispersal rates. Taking trees as a model for organisms with undirected, passive dispersal, we have developed an individual-based, spatially explicit simulation tool to investigate the evolution of the dispersal kernel, P (r), and its resulting cumulative seed-density distribution, D (r). Simulations were run on a variety of fractal landscapes differing in the fraction of suitable habitat and the spatial autocorrelation. Starting from a uniform D (r), evolution led to an increase in the fraction of seeds staying in the home cell, a reduction of the dispersal mortality (arrival in unsuitable habitat), and the evolution of ‘fat-tailed’ D (r) in autocorrelated landscapes and approximately uniform D (r) in random landscapes. The evolutionary process was characterized by long periods of stasis with a few bouts of rapid change in the dispersal rate.

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