Population Structure


The ecological processes of extinction, colonization and migration in metapopulations gives rise to the unique evolutionary properties of structural populations.

Keywords: metapopulation; extinction; colonization; island model; migration; propagule pool; hierarchy; kin selection; group selection; social behaviour; epistasis

Figure 1.

A diagrammatic representation of a metapopulation.

Figure 2.

The relationship between the variation among demes in breeding numbers, N, and effective population size, Ne. (a) Metapopulation with variable N and Nav ∼ 51. (b) Equivalent metapopulation with constant N ∼ 14.

Figure 3.

The distance travelled by a migrant under island model migration (a) is greater than under stepping stone model migration (b), where movement is restricted to nearby demes.



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Hanski I (1999) Metapopulation Ecology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McCauley DE (1993) Evolution in metapopulations with frequent local extinction and recolonization. Oxford Surveys in Evolutionary Biology 9: 109–134.

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Wade MJ (2000) Epistasis: genetic constraint within populations and accelerant of divergence among them. In: Wolf J, Brodie III E and Wade MJ (eds) Epistasis and the Evolutionary Process, pp. 213–233. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wade MJ and Breden FJ (1987) Kin selection in complex groups: mating structure, migration structure, and the evolution of social behaviors. In: Halperin Z and Chepko‐Sade D (eds) Migration and Social Behavior, pp. 273–283. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

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Whitlock MC (1992) Nonequilibrium population structure in forked fungus beetles: extinction, colonization, and the genetic variance among populations. American Naturalist 139: 952–970.

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Further Reading

Hanski I (1999) Metapopulation Ecology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Wade, Michael J(May 2001) Population Structure. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001770]