Limits to the evolution of dispersal kernels under rapid fragmentation

Gili Greenbaum*, Efrat Dener, Itamar Giladi*

*Corresponding author for this work

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1 Scopus citations


Adaptive evolution of dispersal strategies is one mechanism by which species can respond to rapid environmental changes. However, under rapid anthropogenic fragmentation, the evolution of dispersal may be limited, and species may be unable to adequately adapt to fragmented landscapes. Here, we develop a spatially explicit model to investigate the evolution of dispersal kernels under various combinations of fragmentation dynamics and initial conditions. We also study the consequences of modelling an evolutionary process in which dispersal phenotypes continuously and gradually shift in phenotype space in a manner corresponding to a polygenic underlying genetic architecture. With rapid fragmentation rates, we observed the emergence of long-term transient states in which dispersal strategies are not well suited to fragmented landscapes. We also show that the extent and length of these transient states depend on the pre-fragmentation dispersal strategy of the species, as well as on the rate of the fragmentation process leading to the fragmented landscape. In an increasingly fragmented world, understanding the ability of populations to adapt, and the effects that rapid fragmentation has on the evolution of dispersal, is critical for an informed assessment of species viability in the Anthropocene.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number20210696
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number188
StatePublished - 2022

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  • dispersal evolution, dynamic fragmentation, quantitative traits, evolutionary constraints, ecological modelling


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