Evolution in heterogeneous populations: from migration models to fixation probabilities

Theor Popul Biol. 2010 Dec;78(4):250-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tpb.2010.08.004. Epub 2010 Sep 6.


Although dispersal is recognized as a key issue in several fields of population biology (such as behavioral ecology, population genetics, metapopulation dynamics or evolutionary modeling), these disciplines focus on different aspects of the concept and often make different implicit assumptions regarding migration models. Using simulations, we investigate how such assumptions translate into effective gene flow and fixation probability of selected alleles. Assumptions regarding migration type (e.g. source-sink, resident pre-emption, or balanced dispersal) and patterns (e.g. stepping-stone versus island dispersal) have large impacts when demes differ in sizes or selective pressures. The effects of fragmentation, as well as the spatial localization of newly arising mutations, also strongly depend on migration type and patterns. Migration rate also matters: depending on the migration type, fixation probabilities at an intermediate migration rate may lie outside the range defined by the low- and high-migration limits when demes differ in sizes. Given the extreme sensitivity of fixation probability to characteristics of dispersal, we underline the importance of making explicit (and documenting empirically) the crucial ecological/ behavioral assumptions underlying migration models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Population Dynamics*