Reproductive asynchrony in spatial population models: How mating behavior can modulate allee effects arising from isolation in both space and time

William F. Fagan, Chris Cosner, Elise A. Larsen, Justin M. Calabrese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


Mate finding, which is essential to both population growth and gene exchange, involves both spatial and temporal components. From a population dynamics perspective, spatial mate-finding problems are well studied, and decreased mate-finding efficiency at low population densities is a well-recognized mechanism for the Allee effect. Temporal aspects of mate finding have been rarely considered, but reproductive asynchrony may engender an Allee effect in which some females go mateless by virtue of temporal isolation. Here we develop and explore a model that unifies previously disparate theoretical considerations of spatial and temporal aspects of mate finding. Specifically, we develop a two-sex reaction-diffusion system to examine the interplay between reproductive asynchrony and the dispersal of individuals out of a patch. We also consider additional behavioral complications, including several alternative functional forms for mating efficiency and advective movements in which males actively seek out females. By calculating the fraction of females expected to go mateless as a joint function of reproductive asynchrony and patch size, we find that the population-level reproductive rates necessary to offset female matelessness may be quite high. These results suggest that Allee effects engendered by reproductive asynchrony will be greatly exacerbated in spatially isolated populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-373
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2010



  • Age-dependent male reproductive success
  • Critical patch size
  • Demographically effective population density
  • Densitydependent mating success
  • Mate-searching behavior
  • Two-sex population model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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