Original Article

Population Ecology

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 211-219

Variation in northern bobwhite demography along two temporal scales

  • Travis H. FolkAffiliated withAlabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University Email author 
  • , Randall R. HolmesAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics and Statistics, College of Science and Mathematics, Auburn University
  • , James B. GrandAffiliated withUSGS Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Auburn University

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Quantification and understanding of demographic variation across intra- and inter-annual temporal scales can benefit from the development of theoretical models of evolution and applied conservation of species. We used long-term survey data for northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) collected at the northern and southern extent of its geographic range to develop matrix population models which would allow investigation of intra- and inter-annual patterns in bobwhite population dynamics. We first evaluated intra-annual patterns in the importance of a seasonal demographic rate to asymptotic population growth rate with prospective perturbation analysis (elasticity analysis). We then conducted retrospective analysis (life table response experiments) of inter-annual patterns in the contribution of observed changes in demography to the observed change in population growth rate. Survival in the earliest age class during the nonbreeding season had the greatest potential influence in both the northern and southern populations. Examination of inter-annual variation in demography indicated that variation in nonbreeding season survival in the earliest age class contributed the most to observed changes in population growth rate in the northern population. In contrast, changes in fertility in the earliest age class in the southern population had the greatest influence on changes in population growth rate. Prospective elasticity analyses highlight the similarities in bobwhite demography throughout different parts of its geographic range, while retrospective life table response experiments revealed important patterns in the temporal differences of bobwhite life history at the northern and southern extent of its geographic range.


Colinus virginianus Elasticity analysis Life table response experiment Matrix population model Northern bobwhite Perturbation analysis Population dynamics