Immigration Rates during Population Density Reduction in a Coral Reef Fish.

PLoS ONE. 2016;11(6):e0156417 DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0156417


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Journal Title: PLoS ONE

ISSN: 1932-6203 (Online)

Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)

LCC Subject Category: Medicine | Science

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

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Katrine Turgeon
Donald L Kramer


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Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Although the importance of density-dependent dispersal has been recognized in theory, few empirical studies have examined how immigration changes over a wide range of densities. In a replicated experiment using a novel approach allowing within-site comparison, we examined changes in immigration rate following the gradual removal of territorial damselfish from a limited area within a much larger patch of continuous habitat. In all sites, immigration occurred at intermediate densities but did not occur before the start of removals and only rarely as density approached zero. In the combined data and in 5 of 7 sites, the number of immigrants was a hump-shaped function of density. This is the first experimental evidence for hump-shaped, density-dependent immigration. This pattern may be more widespread than previously recognized because studies over more limited density ranges have identified positive density dependence at low densities and negative density dependence at high densities. Positive density dependence at low density can arise from limits to the number of potential immigrants and from behavioral preferences for settling near conspecifics. Negative density dependence at high density can arise from competition for resources, especially high quality territories. The potential for non-linear effects of local density on immigration needs to be recognized for robust predictions of conservation reserve function, harvest impacts, pest control, and the dynamics of fragmented populations.