The spatial structure of populations determines the relative importance of reproduction, survival and movement on population dynamics. However, the mechanisms by which local individuals and immigrants interact and the subsequent effects of immigrants on productivity are poorly known. We developed an integrated population model (IPM) to study the extent and consequences of immigration on the dynamics of a neotropical migrant (American redstart, Setophaga ruticilla) over an 11‐year period in Ontario, Canada. New immigrants represented the majority of the study population each year with higher immigration rates for males than females and for first‐year breeders than breeders in their second year or older. Immigration was negatively density dependent, with immigrants replacing previously established breeders in a compensatory manner following their death or emigration. Because of the tradeoff between immigration and apparent survival, neither had a strong influence on population growth and reproductive output was most strongly correlated with a change in abundance between years. However, if immigration ceased, the study population would become locally extinct within 7 years and thus immigrants were essential for local population persistence. We found no evidence for reduced breeding success when immigrants represented a higher proportion of the study population. Our research highlights the importance of movement in the stability of open populations and the strong correlation between the fates of local breeders and the number of immigrants entering the population. We recommend the use of IPMs to address the spatial scale over which immigration occurs and how different scales influence its contribution to population dynamics.
We developed an integrated population model (IPM) to study the extent and consequences of immigration on the dynamics of a neotropical migrant (American redstart, Setophaga ruticilla) over an 11-year period in Ontario, Canada.