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The demography of climate‐driven and density‐regulated population dynamics in a perennial plant
- Dahlgren, Johan P., Bengtsson, Karin, Ehrlén, Johan
- Ecology 2016 v.97 no.4 pp. 899-907
- climate, climate change, demography, extinction, models, perennials, population dynamics, population size, prediction, risk, shrubs, weather
- Identifying the internal and external drivers of population dynamics is a key objective in ecology, currently accentuated by the need to forecast the effects of climate change on species distributions and abundances. The interplay between environmental and density effects is one particularly important aspect of such forecasts. We examined the simultaneous impact of climate and intraspecific density on vital rates of the dwarf shrub Fumana procumbens over 20 yr, using generalized additive mixed models. We then analyzed effects on population dynamics using integral projection models. The population projection models accurately captured observed fluctuations in population size. Our analyses suggested the population was intrinsically regulated but with annual fluctuations in response to variation in weather. Simulations showed that implicitly assuming variation in demographic rates to be driven solely by the environment can overestimate extinction risks if there is density dependence. We conclude that density regulation can dampen effects of climate change on Fumana population size, and discuss the need to quantify density dependence in predictions of population responses to environmental changes.