Browsing by Author "Zheng, Chaozhi"

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  • Zheng, Chaozhi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Many species inhabit fragmented landscapes, resulting either from anthropogenic or from natural processes. The ecological and evolutionary dynamics of spatially structured populations are affected by a complex interplay between endogenous and exogenous factors. The metapopulation approach, simplifying the landscape to a discrete set of patches of breeding habitat surrounded by unsuitable matrix, has become a widely applied paradigm for the study of species inhabiting highly fragmented landscapes. In this thesis, I focus on the construction of biologically realistic models and their parameterization with empirical data, with the general objective of understanding how the interactions between individuals and their spatially structured environment affect ecological and evolutionary processes in fragmented landscapes. I study two hierarchically structured model systems, which are the Glanville fritillary butterfly in the Åland Islands, and a system of two interacting aphid species in the Tvärminne archipelago, both being located in South-Western Finland. The interesting and challenging feature of both study systems is that the population dynamics occur over multiple spatial scales that are linked by various processes. My main emphasis is in the development of mathematical and statistical methodologies. For the Glanville fritillary case study, I first build a Bayesian framework for the estimation of death rates and capture probabilities from mark-recapture data, with the novelty of accounting for variation among individuals in capture probabilities and survival. I then characterize the dispersal phase of the butterflies by deriving a mathematical approximation of a diffusion-based movement model applied to a network of patches. I use the movement model as a building block to construct an individual-based evolutionary model for the Glanville fritillary butterfly metapopulation. I parameterize the evolutionary model using a pattern-oriented approach, and use it to study how the landscape structure affects the evolution of dispersal. For the aphid case study, I develop a Bayesian model of hierarchical multi-scale metapopulation dynamics, where the observed extinction and colonization rates are decomposed into intrinsic rates operating specifically at each spatial scale. In summary, I show how analytical approaches, hierarchical Bayesian methods and individual-based simulations can be used individually or in combination to tackle complex problems from many different viewpoints. In particular, hierarchical Bayesian methods provide a useful tool for decomposing ecological complexity into more tractable components.