Stochastic Population Dynamics of a Montane Ground-Dwelling SquirrelReportar como inadecuado

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Understanding the causes and consequences of population fluctuations is a central goal of ecology. We used demographic data from a long-term 1990–2008 study and matrix population models to investigate factors and processes influencing the dynamics and persistence of a golden-mantled ground squirrel Callospermophilus lateralis population, inhabiting a dynamic subalpine habitat in Colorado, USA. The overall deterministic population growth rate λ was 0.94±SE 0.05 but it varied widely over time, ranging from 0.45±0.09 in 2006 to 1.50±0.12 in 2003, and was below replacement λ<1 for 9 out of 18 years. The stochastic population growth rate λs was 0.92, suggesting a declining population; however, the 95% CI on λs included 1.0 0.52–1.60. Stochastic elasticity analysis showed that survival of adult females, followed by survival of juvenile females and litter size, were potentially the most influential vital rates; analysis of life table response experiments revealed that the same three life history variables made the largest contributions to year-to year changes in λ. Population viability analysis revealed that, when the influences of density dependence and immigration were not considered, the population had a high close to 1.0 in 50 years probability of extinction. However, probability of extinction declined to as low as zero when density dependence and immigration were considered. Destabilizing effects of stochastic forces were counteracted by regulating effects of density dependence and rescue effects of immigration, which allowed our study population to bounce back from low densities and prevented extinction. These results suggest that dynamics and persistence of our study population are determined synergistically by density-dependence, stochastic forces, and immigration.

Autor: Jeffrey A. Hostetler, Eva Kneip, Dirk H. Van Vuren, Madan K. Oli



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