Frontiers in population ecology of microtine rodents: A pluralistic approach to the study of population ecology
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Current challenges for the study of population ecology of microtine rodents are reviewed. Comparisons with other taxonomic groups (other mammals, birds and insects) are given throughout. A major challenge is to link patterns and processes (i.e. mechanisms) better than is the case today. Other major challenges include the furthering of our understanding of the interaction between deterministic and stochastic processes, and as part thereof, the interaction between density-dependent and density-independent processes. The applicability of comparative studies on populations exhibiting different temporal dynamical patterns is, in this connection, emphasized. Understanding spatiotemporal dynamical patterns is another major challenge, not the least from a methodological point of view. Long-term and large-scale ecological data on population dynamics (in space and time) are critical for this purpose. Looking for consistency between hypothesized mechanisms and observed patterns is emphasized as a good platform for further empirical and theoretical work. The intellectual feedback process between different approaches to the study of microtine population ecology (observational studies, experimental manipulative studies, statistical modeling and mathematical modeling) are discussed. We recommend a pluralistic approach (involving both observational and experimental as well as theoretical studies) to the study of small rodent ecology.
Key wordsClethrionomys rufocanus experimental manipulation and testing mathematical modeling patterns and processes statistical modeling
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