Estimating postnatal dispersal: Tracking the unseen dispersers

Derek M. Johnson, Carol C. Horvitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Postnatal dispersal, defined as dispersal from the natal patch soon after reaching maturity, is common in a variety of insect species. Postnatal dispersal may increase connections among subpopulations and, thus, significantly affect local population dynamics in metapopulation and source-sink contexts. Yet most mark-recapture studies of insects miss the postnatal dispersal phase because it comes soon after eclosion. Cephaloleia fenestrata (Chrysomelidae) is a specialist herbivore of the rolled leaves of Pleiostachya pruinosa (Marantaceae, common name "prayer plant"). Some P. pruinosa patches were flooded prior to the onset of this study, extirpating the majority of C. fenestrata in the flood zone and providing a natural experiment and an opportunity to observe recolonization dynamics. We built a spatially explicit population projection matrix model to simulate spatial population dynamics of C. fenestrata. The model was a poor fit to the empirical data. Adding postnatal dispersal to the model resulted in a much better model fit. This study suggests that 81% of C. fenestrata disperse from the natal site soon after eclosion. Model simulations indicated that postnatal dispersal increases the mean population size in the flood zone more than six-fold and the standard deviation more than three-fold. Herein we present an implicit method of estimating postnatal dispersal when marking animals before the postnatal dispersal phase is problematic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1185-1190
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Cephaloleia fenestrata
  • Chrysomelidae
  • Emigration
  • Flooding
  • Hispinae
  • Immigration
  • Population projection matrix model
  • Postnatal dispersal
  • Source-sink dynamic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Estimating postnatal dispersal: Tracking the unseen dispersers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this