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The central message of Pulliam’s classic paper, “Sources, sinks, and population regulation” (1988), was that population dynamics change across heterogeneous landscapes, and the persistence of populations in “sink” habitats relies on inputs from “source” habitats. Pulliam’s paper has gained widespread attention from the scientific and natural resource management communities. Here, we first provide the context in which the paper was developed and illustrate the paper’s overall impact during the past two decades. We then outline the contributions of Pulliam’s paper to the theories underlying niche concept, population dynamics and distribution, and community structure. Furthermore, we briefly discuss how Pulliam’s message has spread to other disciplines such as microbiology, economics, and public health. We also provide examples to demonstrate the paper’s influence on sustainable natural resource management in issues such as control of invasive species, design of protected areas, and harvesting of resources. Considering the growing impact of Pulliam’s work during the past 20 years, it is likely that this influential paper will continue to inspire scientific discovery and applications in the future.
Source-sink theories provide a simple yet powerful framework for understanding how the patterns, processes and dynamics of ecological systems vary and interact over space and time. Integrating multiple research fields, including population biology and landscape ecology, this book presents the latest advances in source-sink theories, methods and applications in the conservation and management of natural resources and biodiversity. The interdisciplinary team of authors uses detailed case studies, innovative field experiments and modeling, and comprehensive syntheses to incorporate source-sink ideas into research and management, and explores how sustainability can be achieved in today's increasingly fragile human-dominated ecosystems. Providing a comprehensive picture of source-sink research as well as tangible applications to real world conservation issues, this book is ideal for graduate students, researchers, natural-resource managers and policy makers.
Organisms and populations are discontinuously distributed in space and change over time. As a result, conserving and managing ecological systems requires an understanding of how these systems and their patterns, processes and dynamics vary and interact in space and time. More than two decades ago, H. Ronald Pulliam developed a conceptual framework of spatial population dynamics to address this need. In his 1988 paper (“Sources, sinks, and population regulation,” American Naturalist 132: 652—661), Pulliam created a framework that envisioned that populations in “sink” (poor) habitats would rely on inputs from “source” (good) habitats in order to persist. The dynamics of population segments across heterogeneous landscapes were linked. This simple yet powerful framework has inspired numerous studies and has provided the foundation for rapid advances in ecological theory and practice.
To reflect upon and synthesize the development of thinking and research inspired by Pulliam’s framework, a symposium on “Sources, Sinks, and Sustainability across Landscapes” was held at the 2008 annual conference of the US Regional Association of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (US-IALE) in Wisconsin, USA. The symposium, organized in honor of Pulliam’s retirement, amply illustrated his many contributions to ecology, animal behavior, evolution, and other fields, through his former roles as Regents Professor and Director of University of Georgia’s Institute of Ecology, Director of the National Biological Service, Science Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior, and the President of the Ecological Society of America. The 30 presenters from around the world included Pulliam’s former students and postdoctoral associates, as well as other leading scholars who have been influenced by Pulliam’s work.