# Complex Population Dynamics

A Theoretical/Empirical Synthesis (MPB-35)

Publication Year: 2013

Why do organisms become extremely abundant one year and then seem to disappear a few years later? Why do population outbreaks in particular species happen more or less regularly in certain locations, but only irregularly (or never at all) in other locations? Complex population dynamics have fascinated biologists for decades. By bringing together mathematical models, statistical analyses, and field experiments, this book offers a comprehensive new synthesis of the theory of population oscillations.

Peter Turchin first reviews the conceptual tools that ecologists use to investigate population oscillations, introducing population modeling and the statistical analysis of time series data. He then provides an in-depth discussion of several case studies--including the larch budmoth, southern pine beetle, red grouse, voles and lemmings, snowshoe hare, and ungulates--to develop a new analysis of the mechanisms that drive population oscillations in nature. Through such work, the author argues, ecologists can develop general laws of population dynamics that will help turn ecology into a truly quantitative and predictive science.

*Complex Population Dynamics* integrates theoretical and empirical studies into a major new synthesis of current knowledge about population dynamics. It is also a pioneering work that sets the course for ecology's future as a predictive science.

Published by: Princeton University Press

Series: Monographs in Population Biology

#### Cover

#### PART I. THEORY

#### 2. Population Dynamics from First Principles

Ecologists rarely discuss the philosophical foundations of research into population dynamics. Foundational issues tend to work in the background shaping inquiry, and are rarely hauled out into the daylight to be closely examined (Cooper 2001). Several controversies in...

#### 3. Single-Species Populations

In this chapter I present an overview of mathematical models for single-species populations. The basic format is to show and explain model equations, and then to discuss the dynamical behaviors that the models can exhibit. As I stated in the preface, I will not discuss...

#### 4. Trophic Interactions

Consumer-resource interactions are inherently prone to oscillations and are, therefore, the obvious suspect to investigate as a potential mechanism of a population cycle. However, not all models of trophic interactions exhibit cycles. The purpose of this chapter is to survey...

#### 5. Connecting Mathematical Theory to Empirical Dynamics

In this chapter, I review different kinds of dynamical behaviors that ecological models can exhibit, and interpret these mathematical predictions in terms of observable variables. The basic premise underlying the material here is that inasmuch as mathematical models reflect...

#### PART II. DATA

#### 6. Empirical Approaches: An Overview

There are three general approaches to studying population fluctuations: statistical analysis of observational (e.g., time-series) data, mathematical modelingof mechanisms, and experiments. Until recently, ecologists (at least, in North America) have tended to...

#### 7. Phenomenological Time-Series Analysis

At the start of an investigation into population dynamics of some specific system we typically do not know enough about it to begin formulating intelligent hypotheses about its behavior. Thus, the first phase of the investigation should be exploratory, and we need to answer the...

#### 8. Fitting Mechanistic Models

While the previous chapter focused on exploring the structure of density dependence, without worrying too much about the mechanistic content, in this chapter we shall consider more mechanistic approaches to analyzing time-series data. Recollect that phenomenological...

#### PART III. CASE STUDIES

#### 9. Larch Budmoth

If there were a beauty contest for complex population dynamics, then
population oscillations of the larch budmoth (LBM), *Zeiraphera diniana*,
in the Swiss Alps would be a credible contender for first place
(figure 9.1). Not only are these oscillations remarkably regular, but...

#### 10. Southern Pine Beetle

The southern pine beetle, *Dendroctonus frontalis*, belongs to the family
of scolytid bark beetles. Its generic name, *Dendroctonus*, can be
loosely translated as “tree death.” This is an apt name for this beetle,
because it is the most important agent of mortality for several...

#### 11. Red Grouse

Periodic dynamics are not common in bird populations (Kendall et al. 1998: table 1). A major exception to this general pattern is birds of the grouse family (Tetraonidae, order Galliformes) (Middleton 1934; Williams 1954). Population cycles have been reported in Scottish rock...

#### 12. Voles and Other Rodents

Ecologists who are not working on small rodents may consider that the subject of population cycles in voles and lemmings remains as muddled as ever, if not increasingly more muddled. Small rodent ecologists appear to be in the business of proposing new hypotheses rather...

#### 13. Snowshoe Hare

The snowshoe hare–lynx population cycles, like cycles in rodents, lie at the very beginnings of the systematic study of complex population dynamics (Finerty 1980). Although rodent cycles chronologically were first to be noticed by Charles Elton (see section 1.1.1), at the...

#### 15. General Conclusions

Now that we have done so much work trying to understand the specific mechanisms responsible for complex population dynamics in each of the case studies (chapters 9–14), it is time to step back and see if any patterns emerge. Table 15.1 brings together the conclusions...

E-ISBN-13: 9781400847280

E-ISBN-10: 1400847281

Print-ISBN-13: 9780691090214

Print-ISBN-10: 0691090211

Page Count: 456

Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Course Book

Series Title: Monographs in Population Biology

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