We study theoretically the effect of inter-habitat migration on the distribution of population sizes between two habitats, and compare this distribution with the expected ideal free distribution (IFD). Whenever emigration from the two habitats is asymmetric, or when there is a survival cost during migration, the resulting equilibrium distribution of population sizes deviates from the IFD. This result holds irrespective of emigration rule, even though a density-dependent fraction of emigrants generally produces a distribution closer to the IFD than a constant fraction of emigrants. Environmental stochasticity causes a linear relation between population sizes in the two habitats, with slope and intercept only identical to the IFD when net inter-habitat exchange is zero. The type and asymmetry of inter-habitat migration will influence how we should interpret data on population distribution in different habitats. The resulting resource matching is also critically contingent on the relative time-scales of population renewal and dispersal, and when population size is measured in relation to reproduction and dispersal. Therefore, data on population sizes cannot be used uncritically to assess habitat quality.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Biological Sciences