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Spatial pattern and the mechanism of population regulation

Gurney, William and Nisbet, R.M. (1976) Spatial pattern and the mechanism of population regulation. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 59 (2). pp. 361-370. ISSN 0022-5193

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It has been suggested that the saturation density of many populations is adjusted to match environmental conditions by indirect controls rather than by direct physiological response to lack of some critical resource. This hypothesis is widely regarded as untestable since the observable effects of direct and indirect regulation have been held to be indistinguishable. In this paper we show that the way in which the density of a consumer population competing for a single, spatially heterogeneous, limiting resource, “tracks” variations in its environment is characteristically dependent upon the nature of the density limiting mechanism.