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Is individual variation relevant to population dynamics?

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Marsden Fund Success!

What is the optimal level of complexity to consider when predicting population dynamics? The conventional wisdom is to keep models as simple as possible. However, the recent explosion of research on individual variation in animal personalities and life history traits is increasing our capacity to generate complex individual-based models of population dynamics. But will this increased complexity significantly improve our capacity to predict population dynamics, justifying the need for detailed individual-based monitoring in threatened species programmes? Our project will answer this question using our multiple long-term data sets for reintroduced robin and hihi populations, combined with new data relating personality traits to demographic rates.

Written by Dr John Ewen

I have been interested and working with hihi since I was involved with establishing the Tiritiri Matangi island population through translocation in 1995. I am now employed as a Research Fellow at the Zoological Society of London and have been here since 2004. My research is multi-disciplinary and focusses on small population biology and management. I use decision science to assist in planning hihi management and drive our applied research with this species and have experience in molecular and behavioural ecology, wildlife health and nutrition and reintroduction biology.

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