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Individual-based modelling of resource competition to predict density-dependent population dynamics: a case study with white storks

  • Density regulation influences population dynamics through its effects on demographic rates and consequently constitutes a key mechanism explaining the response of organisms to environmental changes. Yet, it is difficult to establish the exact form of density dependence from empirical data. Here, we developed an individual-based model to explore how resource limitation and behavioural processes determine the spatial structure of white stork Ciconia ciconia populations and regulate reproductive rates. We found that the form of density dependence differed considerably between landscapes with the same overall resource availability and between home range selection strategies, highlighting the importance of fine-scale resource distribution in interaction with behaviour. In accordance with theories of density dependence, breeding output generally decreased with density but this effect was highly variable and strongly affected by optimal foraging strategy, resource detection probability and colonial behaviour. Moreover, our results uncoveredDensity regulation influences population dynamics through its effects on demographic rates and consequently constitutes a key mechanism explaining the response of organisms to environmental changes. Yet, it is difficult to establish the exact form of density dependence from empirical data. Here, we developed an individual-based model to explore how resource limitation and behavioural processes determine the spatial structure of white stork Ciconia ciconia populations and regulate reproductive rates. We found that the form of density dependence differed considerably between landscapes with the same overall resource availability and between home range selection strategies, highlighting the importance of fine-scale resource distribution in interaction with behaviour. In accordance with theories of density dependence, breeding output generally decreased with density but this effect was highly variable and strongly affected by optimal foraging strategy, resource detection probability and colonial behaviour. Moreover, our results uncovered an overlooked consequence of density dependence by showing that high early nestling mortality in storks, assumed to be the outcome of harsh weather, may actually result from density dependent effects on food provision. Our findings emphasize that accounting for interactive effects of individual behaviour and local environmental factors is crucial for understanding density-dependent processes within spatially structured populations. Enhanced understanding of the ways animal populations are regulated in general, and how habitat conditions and behaviour may dictate spatial population structure and demographic rates is critically needed for predicting the dynamics of populations, communities and ecosystems under changing environmental conditions.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Damaris ZurellORCiDGND, Ute EggersGND, Michael Kaatz, Shay Rotics, Nir Sapir, Martin Wikelski, Ran Nathan, Florian JeltschORCiDGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/oik.01294
ISSN:0030-1299 (print)
ISSN:1600-0706 (online)
Parent Title (English):Oikos
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
Place of publication:Hoboken
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2015
Year of Completion:2015
Release Date:2017/03/27
Volume:124
Issue:3
Pagenumber:12
First Page:319
Last Page:330
Funder:DIP grants (DFG) [NA 846/1-1, WI 3576/1-1]; European Union [624958]; Adelina and Massimo Della Pergola Chair of Life Sciences; Minerva Center for Movement Ecology
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Biochemie und Biologie
Peer Review:Referiert