Pendulums, predators and prey: The ecology of coupled oscillations

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---Connect one pendulum to another with a spring, and in time the motions of the two swinging levers will become coordinated.

This behavior of coupled oscillators---long a fascination of physicists and mathematicians---also can help biologists seeking to understand such questions as why some locations overflow with plants and animals while others are bereft, University of Michigan theoretical ecologist John Vandermeer maintains.

In the cover article for the December issue of the journal BioScience, Vandermeer summarizes theoretical work he has done over the past decade, leading to his conclusion that ecologists seeking to understand complex interactions in nature should pay closer attention to coupled oscillations.

The basic idea of oscillating populations is not new to ecology.

"We know that any predator-prey system, say lions and zebras for example, shows oscillations," said Vandermeer, who is the Margaret Davis Collegiate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. "If there are lots of lions preying on zebras, numbers of zebras decline; then because zebras are scarce, lions starve and their numbers dwindle, allowing the zebra population to build up again. You see this oscillation, changing on a regular basis from lots of predators with few prey to lots of prey with few predators. The pattern is like waves or pulsations."

What gets interesting is when two independently oscillating systems, such as lions preying on zebras and cheetahs preying on impalas, become connected through the invasion of a third predator---leopards, for instance.

"When they become connected, the situation is very much like connecting two springs together---the ups and downs get into regular patterns." In the case of lions, cheetahs and leopards, bringing leopards into the system causes lion and cheetah populations to oscillate in phase with each other----peaking and declining at the same time. That works to the le

Contact: Nancy Ross-Flanigan
University of Michigan

Page: 1 2 3

Related biology news :

1. Prey not hard-wired to fear predators
2. Marine phytoplankton changes form to protect itself from different predators
3. Alien predators are more dangerous than native predators
4. Wheat can fatally starve insect predators
5. Pressured by predators, lizards see rapid shift in natural selection
6. USGS at The Wildlife Society: From sea-ice change to contaminants to predators and prey
7. Time of day tempers tadpoles response to predators
8. Sea slug mixes chemical defense before firing at predators
9. Creeping crinoids! Sea lilies crawl to escape predators, new video shows
10. Chickadees alarm calls carry information about size, threat of predators
11. Super predators and mass extinctions; extreme NMR; and the worlds smallest solenoids

Post Your Comments:

(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015   MedNet Solutions ... the entire spectrum of clinical research, is pleased to ... High Tech Association (MHTA) as one of only three ... the "Software – Small and Growing" category. The Tekne Awards ... who have shown superior technology innovation and leadership. ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 29, 2015  Rubicon Genomics, Inc., today announced ... of its DNA library preparation products, including the ... ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq has been optimized ... NGS libraries for liquid biopsies--the analysis of cell-free ... applications in cancer and other conditions. Eurofins Scientific ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015 Today, ... a partnership with 2XU, a global leader in ... a smart hat with advanced bio-sensing technology. The ... athletes to monitor key biometrics to improve overall ... partnership, the two companies will bring together the most ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... Biobanking Market 2016 - 2020 report analyzes that ... integrity and quality in long-term samples, minimizing manual ... cost-effectiveness. Automation minimizes manual errors such as mislabeling ... efficiency. Further, it plays a vital role in ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: NBIX ) announced today ... Neurocrine Biosciences, will be presenting at the 27th Annual ... . http://www.neurocrine.com .   Listeners ... prior to the presentation to download or install any ... available on the website approximately one hour after the ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Jessica Richman and ... early in their initial angel funding process. Now, they are paying it forward ... make early stage investments in the microbiome space. In this, they join ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 /CNW/ - iCo Therapeutics ("iCo" or "the ... results for the quarter ended September 30, 2015. ... dollars and presented under International Financial Reporting Standards ... ," said Andrew Rae , President & ... are not only value enriching for this clinical ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: