Structured-Population Models in Marine, Terrestrial, and Freshwater Systems

Volume 18 of the series Population and Community Biology Series pp 19-58

Matrix Methods for Population Analysis

  • Hal Caswell

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Matrix models for structured populations were introduced by P. H. Leslie in the 1940’s (Leslie 1945, 1948). Although they are in some ways the simplest of the mathematical approaches to structured population modeling (see Chapter 1), their analysis requires computational power. For this reason, and because ecologists of the day viewed matrix algebra as an esoteric branch of advanced mathematics, they were largely neglected until the late 1960’s, when they were rediscovered by ecologists (Lefkovitch 1965) and human demographers (Goodman 1967; Keyfltz 1967). In the 1970’s, matrix models were adopted by plant ecologists, who discovered that they could easily handle the complexity of plant life cycles in which size or developmental stage was more important than chronological age in determining the fate of individuals (Sarukhán & Gadgil 1974; Hartshorn 1975; Werner & Caswell 1977).