Predicting population dynamics from the properties of indiciduals: a cross-level test of dynamic energy budget theory.

B. Martin, T. Jager, R.M. Nisbet, T.G. Preuss, V. Grimm

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Individual-based models (IBMs) are increasingly used to link the dynamics of individuals to higher levels of biological organization. Still, many IBMs are data hungry, species specific, and time-consuming to develop and analyze. Many of these issues would be resolved by using general theories of individual dynamics as the basis for IBMs. While such theories have frequently been examined at the individual level, few cross-level tests exist that also try to predict population dynamics. Here we performed a cross-level test of dynamic energy budget (DEB) theory by parameterizing an individualbased model using individual-level data of the water flea, Daphnia magna, and comparing the emerging population dynamics to independent data from population experiments. We found that DEB theory successfully predicted population growth rates and peak densities but failed to capture the decline phase. Further assumptions on food-dependent mortality of juveniles were needed to capture the population dynamics after the initial population peak. The resulting model then predicted, without further calibration, characteristic switches between small- and large-amplitude cycles, which have been observed for Daphnia. We conclude that cross-level tests help detect gaps in current individual-level theories and ultimately will lead to theory development and the establishment of a generic basis for individual-based models and ecology. © 2013 by The University of Chicago.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)506-519
    JournalThe American Naturalist
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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