Evolution of metapopulation structure; Modelling; Spatially-explicit; Simulations
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Ecology, genetics and evolution of metapopulations depend on the patterns, types and rate of migration between local populations, which confer to the metapopulation its structure. It thus important to quantify the probability that individual leaves a population as well as its probability to contribute to the gene pool in a given population. At metapopulation level, this translates into the quantification of the migration distance between populations as well as the forward and backward migration rate.When populations differ in size and in quality, two main models of migration type that characterizes the rate of individual exchanges between populations can be found in the literature. They are the source-sink and the balanced migration model. For the migration distance, most of theoretical models use either extreme models of isolation by distance: the stepping-stone model and island model or a restricted family of dispersal distance distributions. In theoretical studies, models of migration are often used without justification even if they can have drastic consequences on the prediction of the ecology, genetic and evolution of metapopulation. This research project proposes to model, using simulations, the evolution of migration rate and distance in a metapopulation in order to delineate the conditions under which some patterns of migration are more likely to emerge. The model will characterize how migration rate and distance can evolve in heterogeneous and fragmented populations when the following main forces are acting: local adaptation, kin competition, spatial heterogeneity and distance-dependent cost of dispersal. Various forms of habitat distribution, heterogeneity and fragmentation will be investigated. The results of this project will show under which conditions a metapopulation structure is more likely to emerge and how fragmentation and habitat heterogeneity can affect the evolution of migration rate and distance of a population. The expected results are directly relevant to conservation (e.g. estimation metapopulation viability, re-colonization potential, genetic diversity), and to the evolution of populations (e.g. adaptation to novel environment, coevolutionary dynamics, evolution of marginal population). The latter aspect appears particularly important has species might have to adapt their dispersal abilities face to climate change and the constant increases of fragmentation of the environment.