Perturbation drives changing metapopulation dynamics in a top marine predator
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Metapopulation theory assumes a balance between local decays/extinctions and local growth/new colonisations. Here we investigate whether recent population declines across part of the UK harbour seal range represent normal metapopulation dynamics or are indicative of perturbations potentially threatening the metapopulation viability, using 20 years of population trends, location tracking data (n = 380), and UK-wide, multi-generational population genetic data (n = 269). First, we use microsatellite data to show that two genetic groups previously identified are distinct metapopulations: northern and southern. Then, we characterize the northern metapopulation dynamics in two different periods, before and after the start of regional declines (pre-/peri-perturbation). We identify source-sink dynamics across the northern metapopulation, with two putative source populations apparently supporting three likely sink populations, and a recent metapopulation-wide disruption of migration coincident with the perturbation. The northern metapopulation appears to be in decay, highlighting that changes in local populations can lead to radical alterations in the overall metapopulation's persistence and dynamics.
Carroll , E L , Hall , A , Olsen , M T , Onoufriou , A B , Gaggiotti , O E & Russell , D J F 2020 , ' Perturbation drives changing metapopulation dynamics in a top marine predator ' , Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences , vol. 287 , no. 1928 , 20200318 . https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.0318
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences
Copyright © 2020 the Author(s). Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved. This work has been made available online in accordance with publisher policies or with permission. Permission for further reuse of this content should be sought from the publisher or the rights holder. This is the author created accepted manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.0318
DescriptionFunding: O.E.G. was supported by the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland, funded by the Scottish Funding Council (grant no. HR09011). E.L.C. was supported by a Newton Fellowship (Royal Society of London), Marie Curie Fellowship (EU Horizon2020) and a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship (Royal Society of New Zealand). A.J.H. and D.J.F.R. were supportedby NERC (grant no. SMRU 10/001).
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