Special Reviews

Noisy Clockwork: Time Series Analysis of Population Fluctuations in Animals

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Science  27 Jul 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5530, pp. 638-643
DOI: 10.1126/science.1062226

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Both biotic interactions and abiotic random forcing are crucial influences on population dynamics. This frequently leads to roughly equal importance of deterministic and stochastic forces. The resulting tension between noise and determinism makes ecological dynamics unique, with conceptual and methodological challenges distinctive from those in other dynamical systems. The theory for stochastic, nonlinear ecological dynamics has been developed alongside methods to test models. A range of dynamical components has been considered—density dependence, environmental and demographic stochasticity, and climatic forcing—as well as their often complex interactions. We discuss recent advances in understanding ecological dynamics and testing theory using long-term data and review how dynamical forces interact to generate some central field and laboratory time series.

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