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Ecol Lett. 2008 Feb;11(2):184-98. Epub 2007 Nov 3.

When density dependence is not instantaneous: theoretical developments and management implications.

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  • 1Laboratory of Ecological and Evolutionary Dynamics, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, PO Box 65 University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland.

Erratum in

  • Ecol Lett. 2008 Apr;11(4):417.


Most organisms live in changing environments or do not use the same resources at different stages of their lives or in different seasons. As a result, density dependence will affect populations differently at different times. Such sequential density dependence generates markedly different population responses compared to the unrealistic assumption that all events occur simultaneously. Various field studies have also shown that the conditions that individuals experience during one period can influence success and per capita vital rates during the following period. These carry-over effects further complicate any general principles and increase the diversity of possible population dynamics. In this review, we describe how studies of sequential density dependence have diverged in directions that are both taxon-specific and have non-overlapping terminology, despite very similar underlying problems. By exploring and highlighting these similarities, we aim to improve communication between fields, clarify common misunderstandings, and provide a framework for improving conservation and management practices, including sustainable harvesting theory.

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