Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Woods Hole, Massachusetts, United States
Abstract: Spatial synchrony, the tendency for populations across space to show correlated fluctuations, is a fundamental feature of population dynamics, linked to central topics of ecology such as population cycling, extinction risk, and ecosystem stability. A common mechanism of spatial synchrony is the Moran effect, whereby spatially synchronized environmental signals drive population dynamics and hence induce population synchrony. After briefly reviewing recent progress in understanding Moran effects, we will elaborate a general theory of how Moran effects of different environmental drivers acting on the same populations can interact, either synergistically or destructively, to produce either substantially more or markedly less population synchrony than would otherwise occur. We will then provide intuition for how this newly recognized mechanism works through theoretical case studies and application of our theory to California populations of giant kelp. We argue that Moran interactions should be common. Our theory and analysis explain an important new aspect of a fundamental feature of spatiotemporal population dynamics.