What processes must we understand to forecast regional-scale population dynamics? Regional population forecasting

Jesse R. Lasky, Mevin B. Hooten, Peter B. Adler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


An urgent challenge facing biologists is predicting the regional-scale population dynamics of species facing environmental change. Biologists suggest that we must move beyond predictions based on phenomenological models and instead base predictions on underlying processes. For example, population biologists, evolutionary biologists, community ecologists and ecophysiologists all argue that the respective processes they study are essential. Must our models include processes from all of these fields? We argue that answering this critical question is ultimately an empirical exercise requiring a substantial amount of data that have not been integrated for any system to date. To motivate and facilitate the necessary data collection and integration, we first review the potential importance of each mechanism for skilful prediction. We then develop a conceptual framework based on reaction norms, and propose a hierarchical Bayesian statistical framework to integrate processes affecting reaction norms at different scales. The ambitious research programme we advocate is rapidly becoming feasible due to novel collaborations, datasets and analytical tools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20202219
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1940
StatePublished - Dec 9 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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