Population dynamics of Norwegian red deer: Density-dependence and climatic variation

M. C. Forchhammer, N. C. Stenseth, E. Post, R. Langvatn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

237 Scopus citations


We present a model on plant-deer-climate interactions developed for improving our understanding of the temporal dynamics of deer abundance and, in particular, how intrinsic (density-dependent) and extrinsic (plants, climate) factors influence these dynamics. The model was tested statistically by analysing the dynamics of five Norwegian red deer populations between 1964 and 1993. Direct and delayed density-dependence significantly influenced the development of the populations: delayed density-dependence primarily operated through female density whereas direct density-dependence acted through both female and male densities. Furthermore, population dynamics of Norwegian red deer were significantly affected by climate (as measured by the global weather phenomenon, the North Atlantic Oscillation: NAO). Warm, snowy winters (high NAO) were associated with decreased deer abundance, whereas the delayed (two-year) effect of warm, snowy winters had a positive effect on deer abundance. Our analyses are argued to have profound implications for the general understanding of climate change and terrestrial ecosystem functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-350
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1393
StatePublished - Feb 22 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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