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Habitat structure increases the persistence of many extinction-prone resource-consumer interactions. Metapopulation theory is one of the leading approaches currently used to explain why local, ephemeral populations persist at a regional scale. Central to the metapopulation concept is the amount of dispersal occurring between patches, too much or too little can result in regional extinction. In this study, the role of dispersal on the metapopulation dynamics of an over-exploitative host-parasitoid interaction is assessed. In the absence of the parasitoid the highly vagile bruchid, Callosobruchus maculatus, can maintain a similar population size regardless of the permeability of the inter-patch matrix and exhibits strong negative density-dependence. After the introduction of the parasitoid the size of the bruchid population decreases with a corresponding increase in the occurrence of empty patches. In this case, limiting the dispersal of both species decouples the interaction to a greater extent and results in larger regional bruchid populations. Given the disparity between the dispersal rates of the two species, it is proposed that the more dispersive host benefits from the reduction in landscape permeability by increasing the opportunity to colonise empty patches and rescue extinction prone populations. Associated with the introduction of the parasitoid is a shift in the strength of density-dependence as the population moves from bottom-up towards top-down regulation. The importance of local and regional scale measurements is apparent when the role of individual patches on regional dynamics is considered. By only taking regional dynamics into account the importance of dispersal regime on local dynamics is overlooked. Similarly, when local dynamics were examined, patches were found to have different influences on regional dynamics depending on dispersal regime and patch location. © 2010 The Authors.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1735 - 1744