This paper deals with the problem of relating physiological properties of individual organisms to the dynamics at the total population level. A general nonlinear matrix difference equation is described which accounts for the dynamics of stage-structured populations under the assumption that individuals in the populations can be placed into well defined descriptive stages. Density feedback is modeled through an assumption that (stage-specific) fertilities and transitions are proportional to a resource uptake functional which is dependent upon a total weighted population size. It is shown how, if stage-specific differences in mortality are insignificant compared to stage-specific differences in fertility and inter-stage transitions, a nonlinear version of the strong ergodic theorem of demography mathematically separates the population level dynamics from the dynamics of the stage distribution vector, which is shown to stabilize independently of the population level dynamics. The nonlinear dynamics at the population level are governed by a key parameter π that encapsulates the stage-specific parameters and thereby affords a means by which population level dynamics can be linked to properties of individual organisms. The method is applied to a community of stagestructured populations competing for a common limiting resource, and it is seen how the parameter π determines the competitively superior species. An example of size structured competitors illustrates how the method can relate the competitive success of a species to such size-specific properties as resource conversion efficiencies and allocation fractions for individual growth and reproduction, largest adult body size, and size at birth and maturation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics