Stability via Asynchrony in Drosophila Metapopulations with Low Migration Rates

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Very few experimental studies have examined how migration rate affects metapopulation dynamics and stability. We studied the dynamics of replicate laboratory metapopulations of Drosophila under different migration rates. Low migration stabilized metapopulation dynamics, while promoting unstable subpopulation dynamics, by inducing asynchrony among neighboring subpopulations. High migration synchronized subpopulation dynamics, thereby destabilizing the metapopulations. Contrary to some theoretical predictions, increased migration did not affect average population size. Simulations based on a simple non-species-specific population growth model captured most features of the data, which suggests that our results are generalizable.

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