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Nonlinear and stochastic population dynamics and selection in large mammals.
Coulson, Tim*,1, 1 University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ
ABSTRACT- Quantifying the impact of density, extrinsic climatic fluctuations, and demography on population fluctuations is a persistent challenge in ecology. I analyzed the effect of these processes on fluctuations in population size of ungulate populations that have been the focus of long-term individual-based studies. Because the age and sex structure of these populations can fluctuate independently of population size, and because animals of different age and sex respond in different ways to density and weather, identical weather conditions can result in different dynamics within populations of equal size. In addition, the strength of density-dependent processes is a function of the distribution of weather events. I extended these stochastic demographic models to incorporate associations between phenotypic traits and vital rates. These models captured observed weak and fluctuating selection on several traits. Finally, I explore the potential impact of global climate change on population dynamics and trait selection within these populations.
Key words: climate, demography, density-dependence, selection