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Gabriel, Wilfried; Taylor, B. E. and Kirsch-Prokosch, Susanne (1987): Cladoceran birth and death rates estimates. Experimental comparisons of egg-ratio methods. In: Freshwater Biology, Vol. 18, No. 2: pp. 361-372 [PDF, 3MB]

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I. Birth and death rates of natural cladoceran populations cannot be measured directly. Estimates of these population parameters must be calculated using methods that make assumptions about the form of population growth. These methods generally assume that the population has a stable age distribution.

2. To assess the effect of variable age distributions, we tested six egg ratio methods for estimating birth and death rates with data from thirty-seven laboratory populations of Daphnia pulicaria. The populations were grown under constant conditions, but the initial age distributions and egg ratios of the populations varied. Actual death rates were virtually zero, so the difference between the estimated and actual death rates measured the error in both birth and death rate estimates.

3. The results demonstrate that unstable population structures may produce large errors in the birth and death rates estimated by any of these methods. Among the methods tested, Taylor and Slatkin's formula and Paloheimo's formula were most reliable for the experimental data.

4. Further analyses of three of the methods were made using computer simulations of growth of age-structured populations with initially unstable age distributions. These analyses show that the time interval between sampling strongly influences the reliability of birth and death rate estimates. At a sampling interval of 2.5 days (equal to the duration of the egg stage), Paloheimo's formula was most accurate. At longer intervals (7.5–10 days), Taylor and Slatkin's formula which includes information on population structure was most accurate.

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