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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


LIMA, MAURICIO. The dynamics of natural populations: feedback structures in fluctuating environments. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2001, vol.74, n.2, pp.317-329. ISSN 0716-078X.

The fluctuations exhibited by natural populations have fascinated ecologists for the last eighty years. However, a vigorous debate between different schools of population ecologists has hampered reaching a consensus about the causes of such numerical fluctuations. Recent findings and a more synthetic view of population change espoused by ecologists, statisticians, and mathematicians have integrated the role of nonlinear feedback (deterministic) and external environmental (deterministic or stochastic) processes in the dynamics of natural populations. The new challenge for population ecologists is to understand how these two different forces interact in nature. In this commentary, I review some of the basic principles of population analysis during the last 50 years. Finally, this commentary emphasize that one of the most promising approaches in population ecology will be the analysis and interpretation of time series data from several species in the same place, and the integration of demographic analysis and mathematical modeling. In both cases we need long-term data of biological populations and the factors that effect them. The potential insights gained from such an approach will help ecologists to understand better the dynamics of natural populations and will have large implications for applied issues such as conservation, management, and control of natural populations

Keywords : population dynamics; feedback structure; exogenous factors; seasonal regulation; stochasticity; food web structure; climate.

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