Carrying capacity in a heterogeneous environment with habitat connectivity

Bo Zhang, Alex Kula, Keenan M.L. Mack, Lu Zhai, Arrix L. Ryce, Wei Ming Ni, Donald L. DeAngelis, James Van Dyken

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A large body of theory predicts that populations diffusing in heterogeneous environments reach higher total size than if non-diffusing, and, paradoxically, higher size than in a corresponding homogeneous environment. However, this theory and its assumptions have not been rigorously tested. Here, we extended previous theory to include exploitable resources, proving qualitatively novel results, which we tested experimentally using spatially diffusing laboratory populations of yeast. Consistent with previous theory, we predicted and experimentally observed that spatial diffusion increased total equilibrium population abundance in heterogeneous environments, with the effect size depending on the relationship between r and K. Refuting previous theory, however, we discovered that homogeneously distributed resources support higher total carrying capacity than heterogeneously distributed resources, even with species diffusion. Our results provide rigorous experimental tests of new and old theory, demonstrating how the traditional notion of carrying capacity is ambiguous for populations diffusing in spatially heterogeneous environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1118-1128
Number of pages11
JournalEcology Letters
Volume20
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

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carrying capacity
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habitat
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yeasts
yeast
testing

Keywords

  • Carrying capacity
  • consumer–resource model
  • dispersal experiment
  • environmental stressor
  • heterogeneous resource distribution
  • r-K relationship
  • spatially distributed population

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Zhang, B., Kula, A., Mack, K. M. L., Zhai, L., Ryce, A. L., Ni, W. M., ... Van Dyken, J. (2017). Carrying capacity in a heterogeneous environment with habitat connectivity. Ecology Letters, 20(9), 1118-1128. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12807

Carrying capacity in a heterogeneous environment with habitat connectivity. / Zhang, Bo; Kula, Alex; Mack, Keenan M.L.; Zhai, Lu; Ryce, Arrix L.; Ni, Wei Ming; DeAngelis, Donald L.; Van Dyken, James.

In: Ecology Letters, Vol. 20, No. 9, 01.09.2017, p. 1118-1128.

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

Zhang, B, Kula, A, Mack, KML, Zhai, L, Ryce, AL, Ni, WM, DeAngelis, DL & Van Dyken, J 2017, 'Carrying capacity in a heterogeneous environment with habitat connectivity', Ecology Letters, vol. 20, no. 9, pp. 1118-1128. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12807
Zhang B, Kula A, Mack KML, Zhai L, Ryce AL, Ni WM et al. Carrying capacity in a heterogeneous environment with habitat connectivity. Ecology Letters. 2017 Sep 1;20(9):1118-1128. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12807
Zhang, Bo ; Kula, Alex ; Mack, Keenan M.L. ; Zhai, Lu ; Ryce, Arrix L. ; Ni, Wei Ming ; DeAngelis, Donald L. ; Van Dyken, James. / Carrying capacity in a heterogeneous environment with habitat connectivity. In: Ecology Letters. 2017 ; Vol. 20, No. 9. pp. 1118-1128.
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