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Theory-Based EcologyA Darwinian approach$
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Liz Pásztor, Zoltán Botta-Dukát, Gabriella Magyar, Tamás Czárán, and Géza Meszéna

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199577859

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199577859.001.0001

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Population structure and exponential growth

Population structure and exponential growth

(p.48) Chapter 4 Population structure and exponential growth
Theory-Based Ecology

Liz Pásztor

Zoltán Botta-Dukát

Gabriella Magyar

Tamás Czárán

Géza Meszéna

Oxford University Press

Populations may be structured by various individual states like age, developmental stage, or conditions of location. The life histories of individuals can be described as series of stochastic transitions between these states using Markov chains in certain cases. The long-term growth rate of state-structured populations can be determined using the universal methodology of life-cycle graphs and the corresponding matrix population models. The dynamical theory of structured populations offers standard procedures for the prediction (sensitivity and elasticity analyses) or the retrospective explanation (life-table response experiment) of environmental effects on population dynamics and structure. An important theoretical message is that populations of arbitrarily complicated structure maintain asymptotic exponential growth in the absence of regulation. The abstract concepts of the theory—like dominant eigenvector, ergodicity, or reproductive value—are explained and illustrated both graphically and through numerical simulations, and their empirical or practical relevance shown through several examples.

Keywords:   life-cycle graph, vital rates, matrix population model, stage structure, age structure, elasticity analysis, reproductive value, Markov chain, LTRE, stochastic life history

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