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Title: Mathematical investigations into the mechanisms driving the spatiotemporal dynamics of cyclic populations
Author: Smith, Matthew J.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3452 1099
Awarding Body: Heriot-Watt University
Current Institution: Heriot-Watt University
Date of Award: 2008
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The research in this thesis uses mathematical modelling to investigate the importance of various biological mechanisms in detennining the spatial and temporal dynamics of populations that show multi-year cycles in abundance. The ecological system of key interest is the field vole (Microtus agrestis) populations of Kielder Forest (northern UK) which show 3-5 year cycles that are spatiotemporally organised into periodic travelling waves. The first chapter introduces cyclic populations generally and current hypotheses for the mechanisms generating their spatiotemporal dynamics. The second chapter demonstrates that delayed density dependent reproductive timing, a phenomenon recently discovered in the Kielder Forest system, can generate population cycles. The third chapter then extends this finding, showing that plausible microparasitic disease effects on fecundity could generate cycles and delayed density dependent reproductive timing. The fourth chapter reviews the mathematical and empirical studies underpinning our current understanding of periodic travelling waves in cyclic populations, and identifies important research questions for the future. The fifth chapter demonstrates how curved habitat boundaries influence the wave train, and the population cycles, generated by such boundaries. The sixth chapter shows that the relative values of the dispersal rates of the interacting' species generating the cycle~ can also have profound effects on the spatiotemporal dynamics. The seventh chapter demonstrates that the effects of dispersal rates that change as a function of local population density (a common phenomenon in nature) is relatively minor compared to the effects of the overall ratio of the dispersal rates. Finally, the eighth chapter makes detailed recommendations for future studies based on the findings of the previous chapters.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available