A.M. de Roos
- Size-dependent life-history traits promote catastrophic collapses of top predators
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Volume | Issue number
- 99 | 20
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Catastrophic population collapses such as observed in many exploited fish populations have been argued to result from depensatory growth mechanisms (i.e., reduced reproductive success at low population densities, also known as Allee effect). Empirical support for depensation from population-level data is, however, hard to obtain and inconclusive. Using a size-structured, individual-based model we show that catastrophic population collapses may nonetheless be an intrinsic property of many communities, because of two general aspects of individual life history: size- and food-dependent individual growth and individual mortality decreasing with body size. Positive density dependence, characteristic for depensatory growth mechanisms and catastrophic behavior, results as a direct and robust consequence of the interplay between these individual life-history traits, which are commonly found in many species.
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