Dynamical Role of Predators in Population Cycles of a Forest Insect: An Experimental Test

Peter Turchin, A. D. Taylor, R, J. D. Reeve
Science August 13, 1999 Journal Link PDF


Population cycles occur frequently in forest insects. Time-series analysis of fluctuations in one such insect, the southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis), suggests that beetle dynamics are dominated by an ecological process acting in a delayed density-dependent manner. The hypothesis that delayed density dependence in this insect results from its interaction with predators was tested with a long-term predator-exclusion experiment. Predator-imposed mortality was negligible during the increase phase, grew during the year of peak population, and reached a maximum during the period of population decline. The delayed nature of the impact of predation suggests that predation is an important process that contributes significantly to southern pine beetle oscillations.
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