Posted by: oikosasa | August 28, 2012

Per Brink award lecture in the September issue

Each year, at the Oikos meeting, Oikos and Wiley/Blackwell together with the Per Brink Foundation, awards the Per Brink Oikos award in honor of Professor Per Brink. This year’s laureate, Prof. Tim Coulson from Imperial College London gives you below a short version of his paper entitled “Integral projections models, their construction and use in posing hypothesis in ecology”.

More about the award is found in the Editorial for the September issue 

At any point in their lives individual can be measured for a large number of characters.   These characters might be genotypes at a specific locus, age, body size, the ability to fight disease and behaviours.  Some characters might be continuous, some might be discrete.  Population level distributions of these characters can be constructed at each point in time.  Over time, a population level character distribution might change as individuals are born, die and develop.  Any population can consequently be considered as a temporally fluctuating character distribution.  Population biologists – be they life history theorists, quantitative geneticists, population geneticists or population ecologists – work with statistics that summarize aspects of the dynamics of character distributions.

Integral projection models provide a way of modeling the dynamics of character distributions.  Recently, a number of biologists including Steve Ellner, Mike Dixon, Mark Rees, Shripad Tuljapurkar, Dylan Childs, Jessica Metcalf, Peter Adler and I (to name a few), have worked on developing and applying integral projection models to address a number of questions in ecology, life history theory, micro-evolution and longer-term evolution.  A growing body of research has revealed that these models can be relatively easily parameterized for both observation and experimental laboratory and field studies, and that they can be analyzed to provide novel insight.  Given the utility of the models, many researchers, including me, believe that their use will increase in future.  For this reason I felt writing a paper showing how they can be constructed and used could be useful.  In the Per Brinck lecture I gave this year I described integral projection models, their parameterization and analysis.  The Oikos paper that accompanies this lecture develops this theme, and I hope it useful to researchers who want to learn how to construct and use integral projection models. I hope it proves of some use.

I was surprised, delighted and honoured to be awarded the 2012 Per Brinck award, and I’d like to thank the Oikos society for selecting me to receive it.  The Karlstad meeting of the Oikos society was one of the most enjoyable meetings I’ve been to, and I plan to attend many of these meetings in the future.  I do hope my paper generates some interest.

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