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Population Dynamics of the Cinnabar Moth (Tyria Jacobaeae): Oscillations Due To Food Limitation and Local Extinction Risks

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

We report on a 17-year study on the population dynamics of the cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae). As in other long-term studies of this species scramble competition for food leads to periodic crashes in abundance. This results in delayed density-dependent oscillations in the rate of increase of this insect with strikingly similar amplitudes. Recovery after a crash is delayed for a second year, although food is then not limiting. Delayed density-dependent factors such as parasitism and food quality reduction are assumed to be responsible. During a crash the cinnabar moth goes extinct in most local patches of ragwort. Mechanisms that may prevent extinction over large areas containing many such local populations (metapopulations) are heterogeneity in environmental conditions that affect oviposition and predation, and the distribution of egg production in time during the season.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Population Biology, Research Group Ecology of Plants and Herbivores, University of Leiden, P. O. Box 9516, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands


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