Is there chaos out there? : analysis of complex dynamics in plankton communities

E. Benincà

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Species often show irregular fluctuations in their population abundances. Traditionally, ecologists have thought that external processes (e.g., variability in weather conditions) are the main drivers of these ups and downs. However, recent theoretical work suggests that fluctuations in natural populations may also be driven by internal mechanisms (e.g., the interplay between species). In this thesis I use a combination of time series analysis and modeling to provide more insight into the question to which extent such internally generated chaos might drive the population dynamics of plankton communities under controlled as well as natural conditions. In short, this thesis demonstrates in theory and experiment that species in plankton communities may rise and fall forever in a chaotic way. This result challenges the traditional view that nature is at equilibrium and that only externally driven processes may disturb this equilibrium.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Scheffer, Marten, Promotor
  • Huisman, J., Promotor, External person
  • Jöhnk, K., Co-promotor, External person
  • van Nes, Egbert, Co-promotor
Award date6 Dec 2010
Place of Publication[S.l.
Print ISBNs9789085858126
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • plankton
  • aquatic organisms
  • population change
  • population density
  • population dynamics
  • chaos
  • mathematical models
  • population biology


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