Biomathematics Volume 18, 1989, pp 428-449

Stage Structure Models Applied in Evolutionary Ecology

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Mathematical models of physiologically structured populations are now well established within the mainstream of theoretical ecology (Metz and Diekmann, 1986, and references therein), but to date their utilisation in many areas of ecology has been restricted by two types of difficulty. First, the numerical solution of the partial differential equations that arise naturally in the description of many structured populations is far from straightforward, and although promising methods are currently being developed (e.g. de Roos, 1988), the numerically unsophisticated worker does not have ready access to well-tested “off-the-shelf” computer packages such as are available for models posed in terms of ordinary differential equations, difference equations, or Leslie matrices. Second, practical applications of structured models demand large quantities of biological information, and it is seldom easy to formulate models that only require parameters which can be calculated from existing data.