Testing a Theoretical Model that Predicts Extinction of Populations Forced by Random, Episodic Disturbances Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/undergraduate_thesis_or_projects/6108vd27k

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  • We do not fully understand reasons behind extinction of populations and species. Consequently, our ability to anticipate extinction (which can be considered a permanent type of an ecological threshold) has remained elusive. In particular, it is not clear how the attributes of episodic disturbance regimes can elicit extinction. In this project, I test the application of a stochastic model that predicts population extinction based on attributes of the disturbance regime and population growth rates using phytoplankton in a test tube. I examined the response of phytoplankton (Thalassiosira weissflogii and Synechocystis sp.) to stochastic disturbances implemented by having MATLAB control a hydraulic pump that episodically removed portions of the population through time, in between episodes of population recovery. Model prediction of extinction was not observed in either species. In both cases, cells attached to the culture vessel provided refuge from disturbances, enabling the population to recover from a predicted extinction event. I conclude that model prediction might be improved by including a sub-­population that is not subject to disturbance.
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