Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Population dynamics of large and small mammals: Graeme Caughley’s grand vision

Charles J. Krebs
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia. Email: charles.krebs@canberra.edu.au or krebs@zoology.ubc.ca

Wildlife Research 36(1) 1-7 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR08004
Submitted: 11 January 2008  Accepted: 16 May 2008   Published: 21 January 2009

Abstract

Ecologists that study the population dynamics of large and small herbivorous mammals operate in two worlds that overlap only partly, and in this paper I address whether the conjecture that these worlds represent two distinct and valid paradigms is currently justified. I argue that large mammals fall into three groups depending on whether they have effective predators or not, and whether they are harvested by humans. Because of human persecution of large predators, more and more large herbivorous mammals are effectively predator-free and are controlled bottom-up by food. But in less disturbed systems, large herbivorous mammals should be controlled top-down by effective predators, and this can lead to a trophic cascade. Small herbivorous mammals have been suggested to be controlled top-down by predators but some experimental evidence has challenged this idea and replaced it with the notion that predation is one of several factors that may affect rates of population increase. Intrinsic control (territoriality, infanticide, social inhibition of breeding) appears to be common in small herbivorous mammals with altricial young but is absent in species with precocial young, in ecosystems with strong stochastic weather variation (deserts) and in areas of human-induced habitat fragmentation in agricultural monocultures. The extrinsic control of large herbivores with precocial young validates part of Graeme Caughley’s Grand Vision, but the relative role of intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms for small herbivores with altricial young is still controversial. An improved knowledge of population control mechanisms for large and small herbivores is essential for natural resource management.


Acknowledgements

I thank the Australasian Wildlife Management Society and the Australian Academy of Science for the invitation to address the Fenner Conference in Canberra in December 2007. I acknowledge a debt to the late Graeme Caughley for his many insights into population dynamics. I thank Jim Hone and Dennis Chitty for their comments. Three referees were most helpful in suggesting revisions to the original manuscript.


References

Banks, P. B. , Newsome, A. E. , and Dickman, C. (2000). Predation by red foxes limits recruitment in populations of eastern grey kangaroos. Austral Ecology 25, 283–291.
CrossRef |

Bergerud, A. T. , Dalton, W. J. , Butler, H. , Camps, L. , and Ferguson, R. (2007). Woodland caribou persistence and extirpation in relic populations on Lake Superior. Rangifer 17(Special Issue), 57–78.


Cairns, S. C. , and Grigg, G. C. (1993). Population dynamics of red kangaroos (Macropus rufus) in relation to rainfall in the South Australian pastoral zone. Journal of Applied Ecology 30, 444–458.
CrossRef |

Caughley G. (1976). Plant–herbivore systems. In ‘Theoretical Ecology’. (Ed. R. M. May.) pp. 94–113. (Saunders: Philadelphia.)

Caughley G. (1981). What we do not know about the dynamics of large mammals. In ‘Dynamics of Large Mammal Populations’. (Eds C. W. Fowler and T. D. Smith.) pp. 361–372. (John Wiley and Sons: New York.)

Caughley, G. , and Gunn, A. (1993). Dynamics of large herbivores in deserts: kangaroos and caribou. Oikos 67, 47–55.
CrossRef |

Caughley, G. , and Krebs, C. J. (1983). Are big mammals simply small mammals writ large? Oecologia 59, 7–17.
CrossRef |

Caughley, G. , Grigg, G. C. , Caughley, J. , and Hill, G. J. E. (1980). Does dingo predation control the densities of kangaroos and emus? Australian Wildlife Research 7, 1–12.
CrossRef |

Caughley G. , Shepherd N. , and Short J. (1987). ‘Kangaroos: Their Ecology and Management in the Sheep Rangelands of Australia.’ (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.)

Caughley, G. , Dublin, H. , and Parker, I. (1990). Projected decline of the African elephant. Biological Conservation 54, 157–164.
CrossRef |

Crawley M. C. , Albon S. D. , Bazely D. R. , and Milner J. M. (2004). Vegetation and sheep population dynamics. In ‘Soay Sheep: Dynamics and Selection in an Island Population’. (Eds T. H. Clutton-Brock and J. M. Pemberton.) pp. 89–112. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.)

Dickman, C. , Mahon, P. S. , Masters, P. , and Gibson, D. F. (1999). Long-term dynamics of rodent populations in arid Australia: the influence of rainfall. Wildlife Research 26, 389–403.
CrossRef |

Erb, J. , Boyce, M. S. , and Stenseth, N. C. (2001). Population dynamics of large and small mammals. Oikos 92, 3–12.
CrossRef |

Fletcher D. (2006). Population dynamics of eastern grey kangaroos in temperate grasslands. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Canberra.

Fryxell, J. M. , Greever, J. , and Sinclair, A. R. E. (1988). Why are migratory ungulates so abundant? American Naturalist 131, 781–798.
CrossRef |

Fryxell, J. M. , Mosser, A. , Sinclair, A. R. E. , and Packer, C. (2007). Group formation stabilizes predator–prey dynamics. Nature 449, 1041–1043.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Gilg, O. , Hanski, I. , and Sittler, B. (2003). Cyclic dynamics in a simple vertebrate predator–prey community. Science 302, 866–868.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Graham, I. M. , and Lambin, X. (2002). The impact of weasel predation on cyclic field-vole survival: the specialist predator hypothesis contradicted. Journal of Animal Ecology 71, 946–956.
CrossRef |

Hanski, I. , Henttonen, H. , Korpimäki, E. , Oksanen, L. , and Turchin, P. (2001). Small-rodent dynamics and predation. Ecology 82, 1505–1520.


Hone J. (2007). ‘Wildlife Damage Control.’ (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne.)

Hone, J. , and Clutton-Brock, T. H. (2007). Climate, food, density and wildlife population growth rate. Journal of Animal Ecology 76, 361–367.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Jonzen, N. , Pople, A. R. , Grigg, G. C. , and Possingham, H. P. (2005). Of sheep and rain: large-scale population dynamics of the red kangaroo. Journal of Animal Ecology 74, 22–30.
CrossRef |

Klemola, T. , Koivula, M. , Korpimäki, E. , and Norrdahl, K. (1997). Small mustelid predation slows population growth of Microtus voles: a predator reduction experiment. Journal of Animal Ecology 66, 607–614.
CrossRef |

Korpimäki, E. , and Norrdahl, K. (1998). Experimental reduction of predators reverses the crash phase of small-rodent cycles. Ecology 79, 2448–2455.


Korpimäki, E. , Norrdahl, K. , Klemola, T. , Pettersen, T. , and Stenseth, N. C. (2002). Dynamic effects of predators on cyclic voles: field experimentation and model extrapolation. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B. Biological Sciences 269, 991–997.
CrossRef |

Korpimäki, E. , Klemola, T. , Norrdahl, K. , Oksanen, L. , Oksanen, T. , Banks, P. B. , Batzli, G. O. , and Henttonen, H. (2003). Vole cycles and predation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 18, 494–495.
CrossRef |

Korpimäki, E. , Brown, P. R. , Jacob, J. , and Pech, R. P. (2004). The puzzles of population cycles and outbreaks of small mammals solved? Bioscience 54, 1071–1079.
CrossRef |

Krebs, C. J. (2002). Two complementary paradigms for analyzing population dynamics. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B 357, 1211–1219.
CrossRef |

Krebs, C. J. , Boonstra, R. , Boutin, S. , and Sinclair, A. R. E. (2001). What drives the 10-year cycle of snowshoe hares? Bioscience 51, 25–35.
CrossRef |

Krebs C. J. , Lambin X. , and Wolff J. O. (2007). Social behavior and self-regulation in murid rodents. In ‘Rodent Societies: An Ecological and Evolutionary Perspective’. (Eds J. O. Wolff and P. W. Sherman.) pp. 173–181. (University of Chicago Press: Chicago.)

Lambin, X. , and Graham, I. M. (2003). Testing the specialist predator hypothesis for vole cycles. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 18, 493.
CrossRef |

Lambin X. , Krebs C. J. , Moss R. , and Yoccoz N. G. (2002). Population cycles: inferences from experimental, modeling, and time series approaches. In ‘Population Cycles: The Case for Trophic Interactions’. (Ed. A. Berryman.) pp. 155–176. (Oxford University Press: New York.)

Lambin, X. , Bretagnolle, V. , and Yoccoz, N. G. (2006). Vole population cycles in northern and southern Europe: is there a need for different explanations for single pattern? Journal of Animal Ecology 75, 340–349.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Metzger, K. L. , Sinclair, A. R. E. , Campbell, K. L. I. , Hilborn, R. , Hopcraft, J. G. C. , Mduma, S. A. R. , and Reich, R. M. (2007). Using historical data to establish baselines for conservation: the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) of the Serengeti as a case study. Biological Conservation 139, 358–374.
CrossRef |

Milner-Gulland, E. J. , and Beddington, J. R. (1993). The exploitation of elephants for the ivory trade: an historical perspective. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B. Biological Sciences 252, 29–37.
CrossRef |

Mladenoff, D. J. , and Stearns, F. (1993). Eastern hemlock regeneration and deer browsing in the northern Great Lakes regon: a re-examination and model simulation. Conservation Biology 7, 889–900.
CrossRef |

Newey, S. , Dahl, F. , Willebrand, T. , and Thirgood, S. (2007). Unstable dynamics and population limitation in mountain hares. Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 82, 527–549.
CrossRef | PubMed |

O’Connor, R. J. (2000). Why ecology lags behind biology. The Scientist 14, 35.


Oli, M. K. (2003a). Population cycles of small rodents are caused by specialist predators: or are they? Trends in Ecology & Evolution 18, 105–107.
CrossRef |

Oli, M. K. (2003b). Response to Korpimäki et al.: vole cycles and predation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 18, 495.
CrossRef |

Peters R. H. (1991). ‘A Critique for Ecology.’ (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.)

Platt, J. R. (1964). Strong inference. Science 146, 347–353.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Pople, A. R. , Grigg, G. C. , Cairns, S. C. , Beard, L. A. , and Alexander, P. (2000). Trends in the numbers of red kangaroos and emus on either side of the South Australian dingo fence: evidence for predator regulation. Wildlife Research 27, 269–276.
CrossRef |

Raffaelli, D. G. , and Moller, H. (2000). Manipulative field experiments in animal ecology: do they promise more than they can deliver? Advances in Ecological Research 30, 299–338.
CrossRef | CAS |

Risbey, D. A. , Calver, M. C. , Short, J. , Bradley, J. S. , and Wright, I. W. (2000). The impact of cats and foxes on the small vertebrate fauna of Heirisson Prong, Western Australia. II. A field experiment. Wildlife Research 27, 223–235.
CrossRef |

Sibly R. M. , Hone J. , and Clutton-Brock T. H. (2003). ‘Wildlife Population Growth Rates.’ (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.)

Sinclair A. R. E. (1996). Mammal populations: fluctuation, regulation, life history theory and their implications for conservation. In ‘Frontiers of Population Ecology’. (Eds R. B. Floyd, A. W. Sheppard and P. J. De Barro.) pp. 127–154. (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne.)

Sinclair, A. R. E. , and Krebs, C. J. (2002). Complex numerical responses to top-down and bottom-up processes in vertebrate populations. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B 357, 1221–1231.
CrossRef | CAS |

Singleton G. R. , Kenney A. J. , Tann C. R. , Sudarmaji and Hung N. Q. (2003). Myth, dogma and rodent management: good stories ruined by data? In ‘Rats, Mice and People: Rodent Biology and Management’. (Eds G. R. Singleton, L. A. Hinds, C. J. Krebs and D. M. Spratt.) pp. 554–560. (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research: Canberra.)

Singleton, G. R. , Sudarmaji, , Jacob, J. , and Krebs, C. J. (2005). Integrated management to reduce rodent damage to lowland rice crops in Indonesia. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 107, 75–82.
CrossRef |

Smith, M. J. , White, A. , Lambin, X. , Sherratt, J. A. , and Begon, M. (2006). Delayed density-dependent season length alone can lead to rodent population cycles. American Naturalist 167, 695–704.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Solberg, E. J. , Jordhoy, P. , Strand, O. , Aanes, R. , Loison, A. , Saether, B.-E. , and Linnell, J. D. C. (2001). Effects of density-dependence and climate on the dynamics of a Svalbard reindeer population. Ecography 24, 441–451.
CrossRef |

Stromayer, K. A. K. , and Warren, R. J. (1997). Are overabundant deer herds in the eastern United States creating alternate stable states in forest plant communities? Wildlife Society Bulletin 25, 227–234.


Sutherland, D. R. , and Singleton, G. R. (2006). Self-regulation within outbreak populations of feral house mice: a test of alternative models. Journal of Animal Ecology 75, 584–594.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Turchin, P. , and Batzli, G. O. (2001). Availability of food and the population dynamics of arvicoline rodents. Ecology 82, 1521–1534.


Wolff, J. O. (1997). Population regulation in mammals: an evolutionary perspective. Journal of Animal Ecology 66, 1–13.
CrossRef |



Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation Cited By (18)