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The Spatial Dimension in Population Fluctuations

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Science  28 Nov 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5343, pp. 1621-1623
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5343.1621

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Abstract

Theoretical research into the dynamics of coupled populations has suggested a rich ensemble of spatial structures that are created and maintained either by external disturbances or self-reinforcing interactions among the populations. Long-term data of the Canadian lynx from eight Canadian provinces display large-scale spatial synchrony in population fluctuations. The synchronous dynamics are not time-invariant, however, as pairs of populations that are initially in step may drift out of phase and back into phase. These observations are in agreement with predictions of a spatially-linked population model and support contemporary population ecology theory.

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