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Stage-structured ontogeny in resource populations generates non-additive stabilizing and de-stabilizing forces in populations and communities


Glaum, Paul; Vandermeer, John (2021), Stage-structured ontogeny in resource populations generates non-additive stabilizing and de-stabilizing forces in populations and communities, Dryad, Dataset,


Demographic heterogeneity influences how populations respond to density dependent intraspecific competition and trophic interactions. Distinct stages across an organism’s development, or ontogeny, are an important example of demographic heterogeneity. In consumer populations, ontogenetic stage structure has been shown to produce categorical differences in population dynamics, community dynamics, and even species coexistence compared to models lacking explicit ontogeny. The study of consumer-resource interactions must also consider the ontogenetic stage structure of the resource itself, particularly plants, given their fundamental role at the basis of terrestrial food webs. We incorporate distinct ontogenetic stages of plants into an adaptable multi-stage consumer-resource modeling framework that facilitates studying how stage specific consumers shape trophic dynamics at low trophic levels. We describe the role of density dependent demographic rates in mediating the dynamics of stage-structured plant populations. We then investigate how these demographic rates interact with consumer pressure to influence stability and coexistence in multiple stage-specific consumer-resource interactions. Results detail how density dependent effects across distinct ontogenetic stages in plant development produce non-additivity in the drivers of dynamic stability both in single populations and in consumer-resource settings, challenging the ubiquity of certain traditional ecological dynamic paradigms. We also find categorical differences in the population variability induced by herbivores consuming separate plant stages. Consumer-resource models, such as plant-herbivore interactions, often average out demographic heterogeneity in populations. Here, we show that explicitly including plant demographic heterogeneity through ontogeny yields distinct dynamic expectations for both plants and herbivores compared to traditional consumer-resource formulations. Our results indicate that efforts to understand the demographic effect of herbivores on plant populations may need to also consider the effects of plant demographics on herbivores and the reciprocal relationship between them.


Attached here are the 4 models used in Glaum & Vandermeer 2021 (Oikos DOI: 10.11111/oik.08099). Each model is in its own file. These files were created using Mathematica and are run using Wolfram's CDF (computable document format) Player which can run Mathematica code.

Usage Notes

The files provided here are Wolfram .cdf files (computable document format). A CDF is a public format that can be used with Wolfram's free CDF Player, available (as of April 2021) at