Crossing the Hopf Bifurcation in a Live Predator-Prey System

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Science  17 Nov 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5495, pp. 1358-1360
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5495.1358

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Population biologists have long been interested in the oscillations in population size displayed by many organisms in the field and laboratory. A wide range of deterministic mathematical models predict that these fluctuations can be generated internally by nonlinear interactions among species and, if correct, would provide important insights for understanding and predicting the dynamics of interacting populations. We studied the dynamical behavior of a two-species aquatic laboratory community encompassing the interactions between a demographically structured herbivore population, a primary producer, and a mineral resource, yet still amenable to description and parameterization using a mathematical model. The qualitative dynamical behavior of our experimental system, that is, cycles, equilibria, and extinction, is highly predictable by a simple nonlinear model.

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