Evol Ecol Res 18: 693-707 (2017)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Physiological constraints on long-term population cycles: a broad-scale view

David M. Anderson and James F. Gillooly

Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA

Correspondence: D.M. Anderson, Department of Biology, University of Florida, 220 Bartram Hall, PO Box 118525, Gainesville, FL 32611-8525, USA. email: daan4786@ufl.edu


Background: Long-term cycles in animal abundance impact the dynamics of most major ecosystems, yet the drivers of broad-scale variability in these cycles are unclear.

Aim: Examine potential relationships between the period of long-term population cycles and key life-history traits (generation time and its primary determinants – body mass and body temperature) across a broad range of primary consumer taxa (protists, zooplankton, insects, mammals, and birds).

Results: We find that long-term cycle periods vary predictably with generation time, body mass and temperature. Cycle periods decreased exponentially with increasing body temperature, and increased as a power law with increasing body mass.

Conclusions: These scaling relationships appear more consistent with predictions from models of population dynamics based on maternal effects than with those based on specialized consumer–resource interactions. More generally, the results provide a basis for understanding how changes in the size structure of populations, or the environmental temperatures populations experience, may affect their dynamics.

Keywords: macroecology, metabolic theory, population dynamics, climate change, global warming, scaling.

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