Population dynamics across a mortality gradient at an ecological margin are investigated using a novel modeling approach that allows direct comparison of stochastic spatially explicit simulation results with deterministic mean field models. The results show that demographic stochasticity has a large effect at population margins such that density profiles fall off more sharply than predicted by mean field models. Substantial spatial structure emerges at the margin, and spatial correlations (measured parallel to the margin) exhibit a sharp maximum in the tail of the density profile, indicating that spatial substructuring is greatest at an intermediate point across the ecological gradient. Such substructuring may have a substantial impact on Allee effects and evolutionary processes in marginal populations. © 2006 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
- Patch model
- Population boundaries
- Population margins
- Spatial ecology
- Stochastic population dynamics