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Marine metapopulations:a useful concept?
Grimm, V.; Reise, K.; Strasser, M. (2003). Marine metapopulations:a useful concept? Helgol. Mar. Res. 56: 222-228
In: Helgoland Marine Research. Springer: Berlin; Heidelberg. ISSN 1438-387X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Authors  Top 
  • Grimm, V.
  • Reise, K., more
  • Strasser, M.

    We discuss the potential and limitations of the metapopulation concept in marine ecology. The usefulness of the concept in terrestrial ecology is neither based on its simplicity or generality nor on overwhelming empirical evidence. The usefulness is in the questions which are asked when the metapopulation concept is applied. These questions address spatial phenomena and processes on different spatial scales. They help in acknowledging that every population, be it terrestrial or marine, has a spatial organization. Understanding this spatial organization is also important for tackling specific applied problems, i.e. to avoid overexploitation of living marine resources or for configuring marine reserves. The “openness” of coastal populations, whose larvae enter larval pools or which are holoplanktonic, is no reason for not asking the questions implied by the metapopulation concept. For marine ecology, the real problem is to delineate populations, which then may possibly correspond to the “local populations” of metapopulations. Thus, the answer to the question in the title of this paper, whether “marine metapopulation” is a useful concept, is “yes” if the concept is considered a working hypotheses, if the concept is explicitly defined, and if the questions linked to the concept are clearly stated. Even if it eventually transpires that only very few marine metapopulations actually exist, marine ecology would still have gained some important new insights.

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