Contributions of high- and low-quality patches to a metapopulation with stochastic disturbance Academic Article uri icon


  • Studies of time-invariant matrix metapopulation models indicate that metapopulation growth rate is usually more sensitive to the vital rates of individuals in high-quality (i.e., good) patches than in low-quality (i.e., bad) patches. This suggests that, given a choice, management efforts should focus on good rather than bad patches. Here, we examine the sensitivity of metapopulation growth rate for a two-patch matrix metapopulation model with and without stochastic disturbance and found cases where managers can more efficiently increase metapopulation growth rate by focusing efforts on the bad patch. In our model, net reproductive rate differs between the two patches so that in the absence of dispersal, one patch is high quality and the other low quality. Disturbance, when present, reduces net reproductive rate with equal frequency and intensity in both patches. The stochastic disturbance model gives qualitatively similar results to the deterministic model. In most cases, metapopulation growth rate was elastic to changes in net reproductive rate of individuals in the good patch than the bad patch. However, when the majority of individuals are located in the bad patch, metapopulation growth rate can be most elastic to net reproductive rate in the bad patch. We expand the model to include two stages and parameterize the patches using data for the softshell clam, Mya arenaria. With a two-stage demographic model, the elasticities of metapopulation growth rate to parameters in the bad patch increase, while elasticities to the same parameters in the good patch decrease. Metapopulation growth rate is most elastic to adult survival in the population of the good patch for all scenarios we examine. If the majority of the metapopulation is located in the bad patch, the elasticity to parameters of that population increase but do not surpass elasticity to parameters in the good patch. This model can be expanded to include additional patches, multiple stages, stochastic dispersal, and complex demography.

publication date

  • May 2012