How mutation shapes the rate of population spread in the presence of a mate-finding Allee effect

Frithjof Lutscher, Lea Popovic, Allison K. Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Although past work has considered how evolution and Allee effects each shape population spread, these factors have rarely been considered together. We develop an integrodifference equation model that tracks individuals of multiple dispersal types (i.e., short- and long-distance dispersers) of male and female individuals subject to a strong Allee effect due to mate-finding process. We use our model to explore how mutation between different dispersal types affects the rate of population spread, since this evolutionary mechanism has been shown to lead to both faster and slower spread in a previous individual-based model. We ask, under what conditions does mutation cause the population to spread faster (or slower) than it spreads without mutation (from the same initial conditions)? We find that mutation can both speed up and slow down invasions. Speeding up occurs in a relatively small range of parameter space near the Allee threshold of the population. Slowing down occurs across a broad range of parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-269
Number of pages15
JournalTheoretical Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
FL and LP are funded by Discovery Grants program from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (RGPIN-2016-0495 and RGPIN-2015-06573).

Funding Information:
FL is grateful for teaching release through the UOttawa–CRM membership agreement (Fall 2020). AKS is grateful for a sabbatical leave from the University of Minnesota to l’Université de Montréal with support from Fulbright Canada.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • Biological invasion
  • Eco-evolutionary dynamics
  • Integrodifference equation
  • Mutation
  • Range expansion
  • Spread speed


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