Data from: A cryptic Allee effect: spatial contexts mask an existing fitness–density relationship
Terui, Akira; Miyazaki, Yusuke; Yoshioka, Akira; Matsuzaki, Shin-ichiro S. (2015), Data from: A cryptic Allee effect: spatial contexts mask an existing fitness–density relationship, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.bb75p
Current theories predict that Allee effects should be widespread in nature, but there is little consistency in empirical findings. We hypothesized that this gap can arise from ignoring spatial contexts (i.e. spatial scale and heterogeneity) that potentially mask an existing fitness–density relationship: a ‘cryptic’ Allee effect. To test this hypothesis, we analysed how spatial contexts interacted with conspecific density to influence the fertilization rate of the freshwater mussel Margaritifera laevis. This sessile organism has a simple fertilization process whereby females filter sperm from the water column; this system enabled us to readily assess the interaction between conspecific density and spatial heterogeneity (e.g. flow conditions) at multiple spatial levels. Our findings were twofold. First, positive density-dependence in fertilization was undetectable at a population scale (approx. less than 50.5 m2), probably reflecting the exponential decay of sperm density with distance from the sperm source. Second, the Allee effect was confirmed at a local level (0.25 m2), but only when certain flow conditions were met (slow current velocity and shallow water depth). These results suggest that spatial contexts can mask existing Allee effects.