Species persistence in landscapes with spatial variation in habitat quality: A pair approximation model

Jinbao Liao, Zhenqing Li, David E. Hiebeler, Yoh Iwasa, Jan Bogaert, Ivan Nijs

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38 Citations (Scopus)


Habitat degradation has become a major threat to species persistence. Although several models have explicitly integrated habitat quality into metapopulation dynamics, we still lack knowledge of the spatial variability of species persistence which may result from the clustering of habitat patches of differing quality. Here we construct both pair approximation (PA) and cellular automaton (CA) models for species persistence in homogeneous versus heterogeneous landscapes. Heterogeneous landscapes are generated by varying the orthogonal-neighbour correlation between two different-quality habitats. In our simulations, the PA model exhibits similar population dynamics to the CA model, though it overestimates species persistence due to the doublet approximation neglecting correlation beyond nearest neighbours. Generally, landscape heterogeneity enhances species persistence relative to landscape homogeneity, especially with enlarging habitat-quality difference. This indicates that models based on homogeneous landscapes may overestimate species extinction rate. In heterogeneous landscapes, habitat clumping does not influence global dispersers because of random establishment, although it does promote the persistence of local dispersers, especially under severe habitat degradation. However, habitat configurational fragmentation improves the persistence of global dispersers that are highly sensitive to local crowding, probably by reducing density dependence, but this positive fragmentation effect on local dispersers is overshadowed by the stronger negative border effect on impeding local extension. Furthermore, increasing density dependence promotes the extinction risk of local dispersers, while global dispersers are not influenced. For conservation and habitat management, our results suggest that minimising random anthropogenic disturbance should take priority over increasing the connectivity of good-quality habitat, as random habitat degradation poses a more serious threat to species persistence than clustered habitat degradation. Owing to species' diverse responses to habitat configurational fragmentation, landscapes with different properties may accommodate different species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-30
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 21 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Applied Mathematics


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