Site fidelity in temporally correlated environments enhances population persistence

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Site fidelity, the phenomenon of remaining faithful to sites, often where an individual has bred successfully in the past, has important consequences for population dynamics. Previous results have shown that site fidelity results in a positive correlation between population density and fitness. Here, I build on this theme by incorporating site fidelity using the win-stay : lose-switch rule often seen among birds, i.e. individuals return to sites were they bred successfully in the past and vacate those where they have not. Results demonstrate that the combination of site fidelity and temporal autocorrelation in site quality can enhance the persistence of population networks, whereas either factor acting alone has little or no influence. Moreover, there is an abrupt threshold at moderate levels of temporal autocorrelation, ρtime > 0.35-0.4, beyond which persistence time and the probability of surviving >500 years is greatly accelerated. These results suggest that temporal autocorrelation combined with appropriate behavioural responses may enhance population persistence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-184
Number of pages9
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Dispersal
  • Metapopulation
  • Philopatry
  • Population network
  • Population persistence
  • Site fidelity
  • Temporal correlation
  • Time to extinction
  • Win-stay : lose-switch rule


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