In a paper recently published in Ecology Letters, our brand new COM(P)ADRE science committee member Dave Koons, together with David Iles, Michael Schaub and our core committee member Hal Caswell, present a set of transient life table response experiments (LTREs) for decomposing realized population growth rates into contributions from specific vital rates and components of population structure. Unlike previous LTREs, the transient versions do not require assumptions about a constant environment or stationary environmental variation. Rather, they embrace the non-stationary environmental conditions (changing mean, variance, or both) created by climate and landscape change.
By applying their transient LTREs to a diverse array of simulated life histories, the authors reveal that established concepts in population biology will require revision because of reliance on asymptotic approaches that do not address the influence of unstable population structure on population growth and mean fitness in time-varying environments. Going forward, the repository of longitudinal demographic studies in COMPADRE and COMADRE will be necessary for testing these predictions, and applying transient LTREs to real-world conservation and management problems.
For popular press coverage of our paper, see here.
Assoc Prof Utah State University
COMPADRE & COMADRE science committee member
Koons, D.N., D.T. Iles, M. Schaub, and H. Caswell. 2016. A life history perspective on the demographic drivers of structured population dynamics in changing environments. Ecology Letters. DOI: 10.1111/ele.12628