Resource-dependent reproductive adjustment and the stability of consumer-resource dynamics
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This study explored a consumer-resource model including reproductive and nonreproductive subpopulations of the consumer to consider whether resource-dependent reproductive adjustment by the consumer would stabilize consumer-resource dynamics. The model assumed that decreasing (increasing) resource availability caused reproductive suppression (facilitation), and that the reproductive consumer had a higher mortality rate than the nonreproductive one (i.e., a trade-off between reproduction and survival). The model predicted that the variability would be reduced when the consumer had a strong tendency to suppress reproduction in response to low resource availability or when the cost of reproduction was high, although consumer extinction became more likely. Furthermore, when the consumer-resource dynamics converged to limit cycles, reproductive adjustment enhanced the long-term average of the consumer density. It was also predicted that if reproductive suppression enhanced resource consumption efficiency (i.e., a trade-off between reproduction and foraging), then it would destabilize the system by canceling the stabilizing effect of the reproductive adjustment itself. These results suggest that it is necessary not only to identify the costs of reproduction, but also to quantify the changes in individual-level performances due to reproduction in order to understand the ecological consequences of reproductive adjustment.