Title: Edge behavior determines large scale population dynamics in strongly heterogeneous landscapes
Abstract: Understanding how landscape-scale patterns emerge from individual-level birth, death, and movement processes is an important problem in spatial ecology. In heterogeneous landscapes, individual animals may move through many different types of habitat during their lifetimes. Variation in habitat leads to differences in vital rates and movement behaviors with, for example, animals moving more quickly through patches with lower resource quality or higher predation risk. Many animals also respond directly to edges between different habitat patches by biasing their movement toward the more favorable patch while they are at or near an edge.
The method of homogenization is a useful technique for determining landscape-scale population patterns while accounting for the impacts of small-scale habitat variation. For certain problems in spatial ecology, the technique yields relatively simple, closed-form approximations for important quantities, such as wave speeds and invasion criteria, in terms of biologically meaningful parameters. This results in theoretical insights that are difficult to obtain using other methods. In this talk, we will discuss the application of homogenization and some of the insights it reveals for multi-scale problems in spatial ecology. We will particularly focus on the emergent effects of individual edge behavior on population-level dynamics.