Spatio-Temporal Environmental Correlation and Population Variability in Simple MetacommunitiesReport as inadecuate

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Natural populations experience environmental conditions that vary across space and over time. This variation is often correlated between localities depending on the geographical separation between them, and different species can respond to local environmental fluctuations similarly or differently, depending on their adaptation. How this emerging structure in environmental correlation between-patches and between-species affects spatial community dynamics is an open question. This paper aims at a general understanding of the interactions between the environmental correlation structure and population dynamics in spatial networks of local communities metacommunities, by studying simple two-patch, two-species systems. Three different pairs of interspecific interactions are considered: competition, consumer–resource interaction, and host–parasitoid interaction. While the results paint a relatively complex picture of the effect of environmental correlation, the interaction between environmental forcing, dispersal, and local interactions can be understood via two mechanisms. While increasing between-patch environmental correlation couples immigration and local densities destabilising effect, the coupling between local populations under increased between-species environmental correlation can either amplify or dampen population fluctuations, depending on the patterns in density dependence. This work provides a unifying framework for modelling stochastic metacommunities, and forms a foundation for a better understanding of population responses to environmental fluctuations in natural systems.

Author: Lasse Ruokolainen



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