Generation separation in simple structured life cycles: Models and 48 years of field data on a tea tortrix moth

Takehiko Yamanaka, William A. Nelson, Koichiro Uchimura, Ottar N. BjØrnstad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Population cycles have fascinated ecologists since the early nineteenth century, and the dynamics of insect populations have been central to understanding the intrinsic and extrinsic biological processes responsible for these cycles. We analyzed an extraordinary long-term data set (every 5 days for 48 years) of a tea tortrix moth (Adoxophyes honmai) that exhibits two dominant cycles: an annual cycle with a conspicuous pattern of four or five singlegeneration cycles superimposed on it. General theory offers several candidate mechanisms for generation cycles. To evaluate these, we construct and parameterize a series of temperature-dependent, stagestructured models that include intraspecific competition, parasitism, mate-finding Allee effects, and adult senescence, all in the context of a seasonal environment. By comparing the observed dynamics with predictions from the models, we find that even weak larval competition in the presence of seasonal temperature forcing predicts the two cycles accurately. None of the other mechanisms predicts the dynamics. Detailed dissection of the results shows that a short reproductive life span and differential winter mortality among stages are the additional life-cycle characteristics that permit the sustained cycles. Our general modeling approach is applicable to a wide range of organisms with temperature-dependent life histories and is likely to prove particularly useful in temperate systems where insect pest outbreaks are both density and temperature dependent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-109
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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