A flow network model for animal movement on a landscape with application to invasion
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Animal movement, whether for foraging, mate-seeking, predator avoidance, dispersal, or migration, is a fundamental aspect of ecology that shapes spatial abundance distributions, genetic compositions, and dynamics of populations. A variety of movement models have been used for predicting the effects of natural or human-caused landscape changes, invading species, or other disturbances on local ecology. Here we introduce the flow network—a general modeling framework for population dynamics and movement in a metapopulation representing a network of habitat sites (nodes). Based on the principles of physical transport phenomena such as fluid flow through pipes (Pouiselle’s Law) and analogously, the flow of electric current across a circuit (Ohm’s Law), the flow network provides a novel way of modeling movement, where flow rates are functions of relative node pressures and the resistance to movement between them. Flow networks offer the flexibility of incorporating abiotic and biotic conditions that affect either pressures, resistance, or both. To illustrate an application of the flow network, we present a theoretical invasion scenario. We consider the effects of spatial structure on the speed of invasion by varying the spatial regularity of node arrangement. In the context of invasion, we model management actions targeting nodes or edges, and consider the effects on speed of invasion, node occupation, and total abundance. The flow network approach offers the flexibility to incorporate spatial heterogeneity in both rates of flow and site pressures and offers an intuitive approach to connecting population dynamics and landscape features to model movement.
KeywordsMigration Dispersal Landscape modeling Metapopulations Migratory flow network Source-sink dynamics
Funding for this work was made available from the ByWater Institute at Tulane University and the National Science Foundation (BCS-1313703).
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