Biological Populations with Nonoverlapping Generations: Stable Points, Stable Cycles, and Chaos

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Science  15 Nov 1974:
Vol. 186, Issue 4164, pp. 645-647
DOI: 10.1126/science.186.4164.645


Some of the simplest nonlinear difference equations describing the growth of biological populations with nonoverlapping generations can exhibit a remarkable spectrum of dynamical behavior, from stable equilibrium points, to stable cyclic oscillations between 2 population points, to stable cycles with 4, 8, 16, . . . points, through to a chaotic regime in which (depending on the initial population value) cycles of any period, or even totally aperiodic but boundedpopulation fluctuations, can occur. This rich dynamical structure is overlooked in conventional linearized analyses; its existence in such fully deterministic nonlinear difference equations is a fact of considerable mathematical and ecological interest.

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