A size-structured model for cannibalism

J. M. Cushing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


A size-structured model for the dynamics of a cannibalistic population is derived under the assumption that cannibals (successfully) attack only smaller bodied victims, as is generally the case in the biological world. In addition to the resulting size-dependent death rate, the model incorporates the positive feedback mechanism resulting from the added resource energy obtained by the cannibal from the consumption of the victim. From the nonlinear partial integro-differential equation model, it is shown how to obtain a complete analysis of the global dynamics of the total population biomass. This analysis yields many dynamical features that have been attributed to cannibalism in the literature, including density self-regulation, a "life-boat strategy" phenomenon by which a population avoids extinction by practicing cannibalism under circumstances when it would otherwise go extinct, and multiple stable positive equilibrium states and hysteresis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-361
Number of pages15
JournalTheoretical Population Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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