Evol Ecol Res 8: 279-293 (2006)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Non-equilibrium genetic structure is insensitive to the shape of the dispersal distribution

Charlotte T. Lee* and Alan Hastings

Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA

Address all correspondence to Charlotte T. Lee, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
e-mail: charlotte.lee@stanford.edu


Questions: How does rare, long-distance dispersal affect spatial genetic structure on ecological temporal scales? What is the magnitude of its effect relative to the effects of the mean extent of dispersal and of fecundity?

Model features: One-locus, two-allele individual-based simulation of a sessile, annual organism, without mutation.

Key variables: The shape of the dispersal distribution is leptokurtic or platykurtic, with kurtosis varying by a factor of 3; the spatial variance of dispersal and fecundity vary by a factor of 5.

Conclusions: Effects of the shape of the dispersal distribution and of fecundity on within-population spatial genetic autocorrelation are small compared with the strong effect of dispersal variance. Additional processes such as spatial population expansion can increase the effect of long-distance dispersal for some time, and may contribute to studies showing a large impact of dispersal distribution shape. Analysis of different trajectories for populations not in mutation-drift equilibrium provides key information about biological mechanisms and explains why long-distance dispersal is important to some ecological processes and not others.

Keywords: dispersal kernel, genetic structure, kurtosis, long-distance dispersal, pattern formation, spatial autocorrelation.

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