Ecological population sizes fluctuate not only in response to environmental fluctuations but because of the stochastic nature of natural births and deaths. While in very large populations these fluctuations have negligible impact, ecology rarely obliges us by satisfying this limit. Age and stage structure in populations serve to amplify the effect, where the fate of the population is determined by a smaller subset of, say, the fecund adults alone. Demographic noise is probably responsible for the ultimate extinction of many populations once reduced to a small size. Yet the news isn’t all bad. Encoded in the very fluctuations we observe are clues about the biology that we could not see by looking only at averages. I am developing a theory of such fluctuations that uses this noise to inform our decisions about appropriate models and the underlying biological processes.
This is the cover page to my stochastic population dynamics research. Below are live feeds for the current entries in the notebook, most recent articles, figures and commits to the code.