Voles and lemmings: Chaos and uncertainty in fluctuating populations

W. Falck, Ottar N. Bjornstad, N. C. Stenseth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Turchin provided point estimates of the dominant Lyapunov exponent suggesting that chaos occurs in microtines north of 60° N. Falck et al. proposed to use bootstrapping methodology to investigate the uncertainty associated with the reported estimates. Based on this, Falck et al. found no reason to conclude that the northern populations are chaotic. The methodology employed, and the conclusions reached, were criticized by Turchin. Here we discuss the critique as well as analyse the new data set introduced by Turchin. In addition to analysing pooled data for all microtines at seventeen localities (as Turchin does), we also analyse data for each species at the sites separately. As an integral part of our response, we address some fundamental statistical and biological issues. We reach the same conclusion as earlier: there is no statistical evidence to conclude that northern microtine populations are characterized by chaotic dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-370
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1365
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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