Matrix models for a changeable world: the importance of transient dynamics in population management

Authors

  • Thomas H. G. Ezard,

    Corresponding author
    1. Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, UK
      Correspondence author. E-mail: thomas.ezard@imperial.ac.uk
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  • James M. Bullock,

    1. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon OX10 8BB, UK
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  • Harmony J. Dalgleish,

    1. Department of Wildland Resources and the Ecology Center, 5230 Old Main Hill, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-5230, USA
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  • Alexandre Millon,

    1. Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK
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  • Fanie Pelletier,

    1. NERC Centre for Population Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, UK
    2. Canada Research Chair in Evolutionary Demography and Conservation, Département de Biologie, Université de Sherbrooke, 2500 Boul. de l’Université, Sherbrooke, QC J1K 2R1, Canada
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  • Arpat Ozgul,

    1. Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, UK
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  • David N. Koons

    1. Department of Wildland Resources and the Ecology Center, 5230 Old Main Hill, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-5230, USA
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Correspondence author. E-mail: thomas.ezard@imperial.ac.uk

Summary

1. Matrix population models are tools for elucidating the association between demographic processes and population dynamics. A large amount of useful theory pivots on the assumption of equilibrium dynamics. The preceding transient is, however, of genuine conservation concern as it encompasses the short-term impact of natural or anthropogenic disturbance on the population.

2. We review recent theoretical advances in deterministic transient analysis of matrix projection models, considering how disturbance can alter population dynamics by provoking a new population trajectory.

3. We illustrate these impacts using plant and vertebrate systems across contiguous and fragmented landscapes.

4. Short-term responses are of fundamental relevance for applied ecology, because the time-scale of transient effects is often similar to the length of many conservation projects. Investigation of the immediate, post-disturbance phase is vital for understanding how population processes respond to widespread disturbance in the short- and into the long term.

5.Synthesis and applications. Transient analysis is critical for understanding and predicting the consequences of management activities. By considering short-term population responses to perturbations, especially in long-lived species, managers can develop more informed strategies for species harvesting or controlling of invasive species.

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