Species vary greatly in their ability to disperse among habitat patches, and these differences in dispersal ability are thought to drive much of the biodiversity within and among patches. For example, dispersal changes predator-prey dynamics by facilitating the escape of dispersing prey or increasing the success of mobile predators, and it allows small populations to re-establish after local extinctions. The importance of dispersal in re-establishment and predator prey dynamics is predicted to be more important in smaller habitat patches, where prey lack sufficient refuge to avoid predators and local extinctions are expected to be more common because of these predation effects and from higher risks associated with small population sizes. Our research tests the effects of habitat size and movement rates on the diversity and stability of insect food webs.
Principal Investigator: Ben Gilbert