A comparison of the dynamical impact of seasonal mechanisms in a herbivore-plant defence system

Jennifer J. H. Reynolds*, Jonathan A. Sherratt, Andrew White, Xavier Lambin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Plant defences can reduce herbivore fitness and may promote cycles in some herbivore populations. In this study, we model the interaction between plant defences and herbivores and include seasonal forcing, a ubiquitous environmental influence in natural systems. We compare the impacts of two different seasonal mechanisms on the dynamics of the herbivore-plant defence system. The first mechanism involves a fixed breeding season length and a variable birth rate within the breeding season; the second involves a variable breeding season length and a fixed birth rate within the breeding season. When parameterised for a specific cyclic system, namely field voles and silica, our model predicts that a variable season length gives multi-year cycles for a larger region in parameter space than a variable birth rate. Our results highlight the complexity of the dynamical effects of seasonal forcing and that these effects are strongly dependent on the type of seasonal mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-239
Number of pages15
JournalTheoretical Ecology
Issue number2
Early online date7 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • seasonal forcing
  • population cycles
  • inducible plant defences
  • herbivore dynamics
  • predator-prey communities
  • field vole populations
  • host birth-rates
  • prairie vole
  • epidemiologic systems
  • induced resistance
  • inducible defense
  • silica defenses
  • food limitation
  • snowshoe hares

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