Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 253–269

Habitat-dependent population regulation and community structure

  • Douglas W. Morris

DOI: 10.1007/BF02214286

Cite this article as:
Morris, D.W. Evol Ecol (1988) 2: 253. doi:10.1007/BF02214286


Density-dependence provides a causal link between processes acting at different levels of ecological organization. The linkage between density-dependent habitat use, population regulation and community organization is examined on the basis of qualitative and quantitative differences between habitats. These differences are expressed as characteristic shapes on isodars which are lines of equal fitness, and are plotted in density space as lines at every point of which the fitness of individuals in one habitat is equal to that of individuals in another. Isodars can be constructed for single species or modified to include the effects of interacting species. Isodars are easily analyzed by linear regression to differentiate between alternative modes of population regulation and to suggest patterns of community structure. Different isodars are causally related to different kinds of community structure, and suggest the existence of four new forms of community organization; equal, differential, switched and mixed preferences. A preliminary isodar analysis on a common rodent species demonstrates that population regulation depends upon habitat, and that mixed preferences probably organize the rodent community. Habitat-dependent population regulation has farreaching implications to studies of temporal and spatial scale, and to all ecological processes that are density-dependent.


Community structuredensity-dependencedifferential preferenceghost of competitionhabitat selectionisodar analysismixed preferencePeromyscuspopulation regulationscalesmall mammalsswitched preference

Copyright information

© Chapman and Hall Ltd. 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas W. Morris
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John'sCanada