A chaotic attractor in ecology: Theory and experimental data

J. M. Cushing, Shandelle M. Henson, Robert A. Desharnais, Brian Dennis, R. F. Costantino, Aaron King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Chaos has now been documented in a laboratory population. In controlled laboratory experiments, cultures of flour beetles (Tribolium castaneum) undergo bifurcations in their dynamics as demographic parameters are manipulated. These bifurcations, including a specific route to chaos, are predicted by a well-validated deterministic model called the "LPA model". The LPA model is based on the nonlinear interactions among the life cycle stages of the beetle (larva, pupa and adult). A stochastic version of the model accounts for the deviations of data from the deterministic model and provides the means for parameterization and rigorous statistical validation. The chaotic attractor of the deterministic LPA model and the stationary distribution of the stochastic LPA model describe the experimental data in phase space with striking accuracy. In addition, model-predicted temporal patterns on the attractor are observed in the data. This paper gives a brief account of the interdisciplinary effort that obtained these results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-234
Number of pages16
JournalChaos, solitons and fractals
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematics(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


Dive into the research topics of 'A chaotic attractor in ecology: Theory and experimental data'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this