Individual energetics and the equilibrium demography of structured populations

William Gurney, D.A.J. Middleton, R.M. Nisbet, E. McCauley, W.W. Murdoch, A. de Roos

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30 Citations (Scopus)


This paper considers the relationship between the demographic mechanisms of population control and the energetics of the individuals who comprise the population. We examine the equilibrium properties of a class of structured population models in which individuals compete for some environmental resource (such as food) and demonstrate that population demography is independent of the nature of the feedback loop which establishes the equilibrium state. We thus derive general insights into the influence exerted by individual energetic and allocation strategies on population average demographic characteristics. We show that models of individual energetics which produce apparently very similar predictions at the individual level can result in very different behaviour at the population level. In addition, we observe that different models of individual mortality can imply marked differences in population demography and that the common assumption of constant mortality can be responsible for potentially unrealistic model behaviour. Our results emphasise the substantial data requirements for parameterising and testing individual-based models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-368
Number of pages25
JournalTheoretical Population Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1996


  • population control
  • structured population models
  • population demography


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