Demographic Characteristics and Population Dynamical Patterns of Solitary Birds

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Science  15 Mar 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5562, pp. 2070-2073
DOI: 10.1126/science.1068766

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In birds and many other animals, there are large interspecific differences in the magnitude of annual variation in population size. Using time-series data on populations of solitary bird species, we found that fluctuations in population size of solitary birds were affected by the deterministic characteristics of the population dynamics as well as the stochastic factors. In species with highly variable populations, annual variation in recruitment was positively related to the return rate of adults between successive breeding seasons. In stable populations, more recruits were found in years with low return rates of breeding adults. This identifies a gradient, associated with the position of the species along a “slow-fast” continuum of life history variation, from highly variable populations with a recruitment-driven demography to stable, strongly density-regulated populations with a survival-restricted demography. These results suggest that patterns in avian population fluctuations can be predicted from a knowledge of life-history characteristics and/or temporal variation in certain demographic traits.

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