Gabriel, Wilfried; Bürger, Reinhard
Survival of small populations under demographic stochasticity.
In: Theoretical Population Biology, Vol. 41, No. 1: pp. 44-71
We estimate the mean time to extinction of small populations in an environment with constant carrying capacity but under stochastic demography. In particular, we investigate the interaction of stochastic variation in fecundity and sex ratio under several different schemes of density dependent population growth regimes. The methods used include Markov chain theory, Monte Carlo simulations, and numerical simulations based on Markov chain theory. We find a strongly enhanced extinction risk if stochasticity in sex ratio and fluctuating population size act simultaneously as compared to the case where each mechanism acts alone. The distribution of extinction times deviates slightly from a geometric one, in particular for short extinction times. We also find that whether maximization of intrinsic growth rate decreases the risk of extinction or not depends strongly on the population regulation mechanism. If the population growth regime reduces populations above the carrying capacity to a size below the carrying capacity for large r (overshooting) then the extinction risk increases if the growth rate deviates from an optimal r-value.