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A Reevaluation of Density‐Dependent Population Cycles in Open Systems

Mark Johnson
The American Naturalist
Vol. 155, No. 1 (January 2000), pp. 36-45
DOI: 10.1086/303300
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/303300
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
A Reevaluation of Density‐Dependent
Population Cycles in Open Systems
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Abstract

abstract: Studies motivated by consideration of barnacle populations have led to the prediction of two different dynamic states for space‐limited open populations subject to density‐dependent mortality. Population densities may cycle or fluctuate stochastically around a mean value. Despite the potential generality of the associated theory, there are few examples of population cycling in open systems that have been shown to be driven by density‐dependent effects. This may be because settlement and growth processes are generally too slow or too variable to generate consistent cycles. An alternative explanation is examined in this article using spatially explicit simulations. Even under conditions of consistent settlement and growth, the cycles predicted in at least one previous study are shown to represent a special case. Clear population cycles are only observed when the density‐dependent disturbances are constrained to reoccur in exactly the same location. In the more general case, where density‐dependent disturbances respond to local variations in population density, the cycling predicted from simple models is difficult to detect. Hence, a failure to detect cycling in population density does not refute a role for density dependence. Density‐dependent disturbances can create a characteristic spatial structure consisting of a mosaic of cohorts.

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