A tale of two cycles - Distinguishing quasi-cycles and limit cycles in finite predator-prey populations

Pineda-Krch M, Blok HJ, Dieckmann U, & Doebeli M (2007). A tale of two cycles - Distinguishing quasi-cycles and limit cycles in finite predator-prey populations. Oikos 116 (1): 53-64. DOI:10.1111/j.2006.0030-1299.14940.x.

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Periodic predator-prey dynamics in constant environments are usually taken as indicative of deterministic limit cycles. It is known, however, that demographic stochasticity in finite populations can also give rise to regular population cycles, even when the corresponding deterministic models predict a stable equilibrium. Specifically, such quasi-cycles are expected in stochastic versions of deterministic models exhibiting equilibrium dynamics with weakly damped oscillations. The existence of quasi-cycles substantially expands the scope for natural patterns of periodic population oscillations caused by ecological interactions, thereby complicating the conclusive interpretation of such patterns. Here we show how to distinguish between quasi-cycles and noisy limit cycles based on observing changing population sizes in predator-prey populations. We start by confirming that both types of cycle can occur in the individual-based version of a widely used class of deterministic predator-prey model. We then show that it is feasible and straightforward to accurately distinguish between the two types of cycle through the combined analysis of autocorrelations and marginal distributions of population sizes. Finally, by confronting these results with real ecological time series, we demonstrate that by using our methods even short and imperfect time series allow quasi-cycles and limit cycles to be distinguished reliably.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Evolution and Ecology (EEP)
Bibliographic Reference: Oikos; 116(1):53-64 (January 2007) (Published online 4 October 2006)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:39
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2016 09:06
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/8171

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