Linking habitat selection, emigration and population dynamics of freshwater fishes: A synthesis of ideas and approaches

T. E. McMahon, W. J. Matter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The consequences of individual behaviour to dynamics of populations has been a critical question in fish ecology, but linking the two has proven difficult. A modification of Sale's habitat selection model provides a conceptual linkage for relating resource availability and individual habitat selection to exploratory behaviour, emigration and population-level responses. Whole-population experiments with pupfish Cyprinodon macularius that linked all factors along this resource to population continuum lend support to this conceptual model, and illustrate that emigration may be much more common in fish populations than considered in most individual- or population-based models. Accommodating emigration can enhance the ecological appropriateness of behavioural experiments and increase confidence in extrapolation of experimental observations to population-level effects. New experimental designs and advancing technologies offer avenues for assessing population consequences of habitat selection and emigration by individual fish. Emigration often is the key linkage between individual behaviour and population responses, and greater understanding of the underlying factors affecting this often-overlooked demographic parameter could offer new approaches for management and conservation of fishes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-210
Number of pages11
JournalEcology of Freshwater Fish
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Dispersal
  • Emigration
  • Fish behaviour
  • Habitat selection
  • Metapopulations
  • Population dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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