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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Feb 20;93(4):1504-8.

Unusual dynamics of extinction in a simple ecological model.

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  • 1Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India.


Studies on natural populations and harvesting biological resources have led to the view, commonly held, that (i) populations exhibiting chaotic oscillations run a high risk of extinction; and (ii) a decrease in emigration/exploitation may reduce the risk of extinction. Here we describe a simple ecological model with emigration/depletion that shows behavior in contrast to this. This model displays unusual dynamics of extinction and survival, where populations growing beyond a critical rate can persist within a band of high depletion rates, whereas extinction occurs for lower depletion rates. Though prior to extinction at lower depletion rates the population exhibits chaotic dynamics with large amplitudes of variation and very low minima, at higher depletion rates the population persists at chaos but with reduced variation and increased minima. For still higher values, within the band of persistence, the dynamics show period reversal leading to stability. These results illustrate that chaos does not necessarily lead to population extinction. In addition, the persistence of populations at high depletion rates has important implications in the considerations of strategies for the management of biological resources.

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