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Title: Interactions between structure and stochasticity in demogaphic models
Author: Ezard, Thomas Harold George
ISNI:       0000 0000 7210 7924
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2008
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Demography is the study of population dynamics. Populations can be considered as groups of individuals living within a given region. These simple statements encompass highly disparate systems, which respond to demographic and environmental stochasticity in predictable and unpredictable ways. The responses depend on the structure of the population, since individuals can have vastly different survival and recruitment, which, with dispersal, determine population abundance. Whilst some variation is inter-st(age) – increases in reproductive performance with age, for example – substantial intra-st(age) variation is not uncommon. Using longterm individual-based data on two disparate vertebrate populations, the focus of this thesis is the interaction between structure and stochasticity in demographic models, and consequences on resultant aspects of population growth. Structured models that incorporated variation in demographic rates detected marked differences within, between and across diverse habitats for different age-classes in both populations. These results were consistent for a wide range of scaling and definition to account for mathematical dependence. Spatial structure was more influential than age-structure in responses to stochastic predation. Despite significant changes in performance and phenotype with age, individual heterogeneity within ageclasses was vast. These results are of importance for conservation and management action, as well as predictors of evolutionary change. The population is a fundamental force in ecology and evolution. This work adds weight to the argument that characteristics of individual performance in response to variability in their environments are pivotal to increased understanding of changes in population abundance. These individual responses are dependent upon the opportunity generated by population structure. A failure to incorporate either structure or stochasticity neglects crucial aspects in population regulation, and therefore ecological and evolutionary change.
Supervisor: Coulson, Tim Sponsor: NERC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral