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The Global Population Dynamics Database (GPDD) is an important new source of information for ecologists, resource managers, and environmental scientists interested in the dynamics of natural populations. It comprises more than 4500 time series of population abundance for over 1800 animal species across many taxonomic groups and geographical locations. The GPDD offers great potential for asking comparative questions about the nature of population variability. We illustrate this by characterizing some critical features of ecological variability, variance growth, and spectral reddening.