Evolutionary Consequences of Asymmetric Dispersal Rates

Institute of Zoology, University of Basel, Rheinsprung 9, CH-4051 Basel, Switzerland.
The American Naturalist (Impact Factor: 3.83). 10/2002; 160(3):333-47. DOI: 10.1086/341519
Source: PubMed


We study the consequences of asymmetric dispersal rates (e.g., due to wind or current) for adaptive evolution in a system of two habitat patches. Asymmetric dispersal rates can lead to overcrowding of the "downstream" habitat, resulting in a source-sink population structure in the absence of intrinsic quality differences between habitats or can even cause an intrinsically better habitat to function as a sink. Source-sink population structure due to asymmetric dispersal rates has similar consequences for adaptive evolution as a source-sink structure due to habitat quality differences: natural selection tends to be biased toward the source habitat. We demonstrate this for two models of adaptive evolution: invasion of a rare allele that improves fitness in one habitat but reduces it in the other and antagonistic selection on a quantitative trait determined by five additive loci. If a habitat can sustain a population without immigration, the conditions for adaptation to that habitat are most favorable if there is little or no immigration from the other habitat; the influence of emigration depends on the magnitude of the allelic effects involved and other parameters. If, however, the population is initially unable to persist in a given habitat without immigration, our model predicts that the population will be most likely to adapt to that habitat if the dispersal rates in both directions are high. Our results highlight the general message that the effect of gene flow upon local adaptation should depend profoundly on the demographic context of selection.

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