Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 May 2010
This paper consists of two parts: the first is a general discussion of population growth rates, the factors that determine them and their role in studies of population regulation; the second is a specific example of the calculation of a population growth rate and its use in an evolutionary ecological study. The first part is based on the summary talk given in The Royal Society Discussion Meeting from which the collected papers are assembled in this issue, but was also much influenced by an informal discussion meeting hosted by the Novartis Foundation that immediately followed the meeting at The Royal Society, and which was attended by most of the speakers as well as other population biologists (see the Acknowledgements). But though the strongly expressed views of many of the participants have often affected or determined what we have written, this is not an attempt at a consensus, and the blame for any muddle-headedness rests with us alone.
Population growth rate and population regulation
Population growth rate
Is it justified to give the population growth rate such a central position in population biology? Is it not just one of a spectrum of useful concepts that permeate population dynamics, a particularly important one perhaps, but not deserving of so pivotal a role? We see several strong arguments supporting the importance of population growth rate, but with a number of caveats.