Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Evaluating the relative importance of ecological drivers responsible for natural population fluctuations in size is challenging. Longitudinal studies where most individuals are monitored from birth to death and where environmental conditions are known provide a valuable resource to characterize complex ecological interactions. We used a recently developed approach to decompose the observed fluctuation in population growth of the red deer population on the Isle of Rum into contributions from climate, density and their interaction and to quantify their relative importance. We also quantified the contribution of individual covariates, including phenotypic and life-history traits, to population growth. Fluctuations in composition in age and sex classes ((st)age structure) of the population contributed substantially to the population dynamics. Density, climate, birth weight and reproductive status contributed less and approximately equally to the population growth. Our results support the contention that fluctuations in the population's (st)age structure have important consequences for population dynamics and underline the importance of including information on population composition to understand the effect of human-driven changes on population performance of long-lived species.

Original publication

DOI

10.1098/rspb.2011.0827

Type

Journal article

Journal

Proc Biol Sci

Publication Date

22/01/2012

Volume

279

Pages

394 - 401

Keywords

Age Distribution, Animals, Climate, Deer, Environment, Phenotype, Population Density, Population Dynamics, Population Growth, Sex Ratio