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Multiple Attractors and Long Transients in Spatially Structured Populations with an Allee Effect.


We present a discrete-time model of a spatially structured population and explore the effects of coupling when the local dynamics contain a strong Allee effect and overcompensation. While an isolated population can exhibit only bistability and essential extinction, a spatially structured population can exhibit numerous coexisting attractors. We identify mechanisms and parameter ranges that can protect the spatially structured population from essential extinction, whereas it is inevitable in the local system. In the case of weak coupling, a state where one subpopulation density lies above and the other one below the Allee threshold can prevent essential extinction. Strong coupling, on the other hand, enables both populations to persist above the Allee threshold when dynamics are (approximately) out of phase. In both cases, attractors have fractal basin boundaries. Outside of these parameter ranges, dispersal was not found to prevent essential extinction. We also demonstrate how spatial structure can lead to long transients of persistence before the population goes extinct.

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