Overcompensation and population cycles in an ungulate

B. T. Grenfell, O. F. Price, S. D. Albon, T. H. Glutton-Brock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


ALTHOUGH theoretical studies show that overcompensatory density-dependent mechanisms can potentially generate regular or chaotic fluctuations in animal numbers, the majority of realistic single-species models of invertebrate populations are not overcompensatory enough to cause sustained population cycles1-3. The possibility that Overcompensation may generate cycles or chaos in vertebrate populations has seldom been considered. Here we show that highly overcompensating density-dependent mortality can generate recurrent population crashes consistent with those observed in a naturally limited population of Soay sheep. The observed interval of three or more years between crashes points to sharp 'focusing' of mortality over a narrow range of population density.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)823-826
Number of pages4
Issue number6363
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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