## Abstract

Animals and many plants are counted in discrete units. The collection of possible values (state space) of population numbers is thus a nonnegative integer lattice. Despite this fact, many mathematical population models assume a continuum of system states. The complex dynamics, such as chaos, often displayed by such continuous-state models have stimulated much ecological research; yet discrete-state models with bounded population size can display only cyclic behavior. Motivated by data from a population experiment, we compared the predictions of discrete-state and continuous-state population models. Neither the discrete- nor continuous-state models completely account for the data. Rather, the observed dynamics are explained by a stochastic blending of the chaotic dynamics predicted by the continuous-state model and the cyclic dynamics predicted by the discrete-state models. We suggest that such lattice effects could be an important component of natural population fluctuations.

Original language | English (US) |
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Pages (from-to) | 602-605 |

Number of pages | 4 |

Journal | Science |

Volume | 294 |

Issue number | 5542 |

DOIs | |

State | Published - Oct 19 2001 |

Externally published | Yes |

## ASJC Scopus subject areas

- General