The emergence of the rescue effect from the interaction of local stochastic dynamics within a metapopulation
Immigration can rescue local populations from extinction, helping to stabilise a metapopulation. Local population dynamics is important for determining the strength of this rescue effect, but the mechanistic link between local demographic parameters and the rescue effect at the metapopulation level has received very little attention by modellers. We develop an analytical framework that allows us to describe the emergence of the rescue effect from interacting local stochastic dynamics. We show this framework to be applicable to a wide range of spatial scales, providing a powerful and convenient alternative to individual-based models for making predictions concerning the fate of metapopulations. We show that the rescue effect plays an important role in minimising the increase in local extinction probability associated with high demographic stochasticity, but its role is more limited in the case of high local environmental stochasticity of recruitment or survival. While most models postulate the rescue effect, our framework provides an explicit mechanistic link between local dynamics and the emergence of the rescue effect, and more generally the stability of the whole metapopulation.