In the real world, environments are patchy. Factors influencing the proximate physiological or behavioral state or the ultimate fitness of individuals exhibit disconÂ tinuities on many scales in time and space. The patterns of these discontinuities produce an environmental patchwork which exerts powerful influences on the distriÂ butions of organisms, their interactions, and their adaptations. Consideration of this environmental patch structure is critical to both the theory and management of populations. Despite the obvious heterogeneity of natural sysÂ te.ms, most of the models that form the theoretical fabric of population biology and ecology (and that are increasingly conditioning our perception of reality) tell matheÂ matical stories of populations existing at single points in space or time (142, 261). While some attempts have been made to relax this assumption of environmental constancy at the level of single populations (e.g. 146, 1 87, 245, 284), population interactions (e.g. 1 64, 177), or ecosystems (e.g. 72, 73, 295, 3 1 0), the task of translatÂ ing patchiness into a form compatible with computer simulation of system dynamics is indeed formidable (261 ). In population management disciplines, the importance of environmental patch structure was realized more than a generation ago in such
Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics – Annual Reviews
Published: Nov 1, 1976
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