Many habitat fragmentation experiments make the prediction that animal population density will be positively related to fragment, or patch, size. The mechanism that is supposed to result in this prediction is unclear, but several recent reviews have demonstrated that population density often is negatively related to patch size. Immigration behavior is likely to have an important effect on population density for species that do not show strong edge effects, for species that have low emigration rates, and during short-term habitat fragmentation experiments. We consider the effect that different kinds of immigration behaviors will have on population density and we demonstrate that only a minority of possible scenarios produce positive density vs. patch size relationships. More commonly, these relationships are expected to be negative. Our results demonstrate the importance of considering autecological mechanisms, such as immigration behavior, when developing the predictions that we test in habitat fragmentation or other experiments. Copyright

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Journal Ecology and Society
Bowman, J. (Jeff), Cappuccino, N, & Fahrig, L. (2002). Patch size and population density: The effect of immigration behavior. Ecology and Society, 6(1).