Transient synchrony among populations of five foliage-feeding Lepidoptera

Maartje J. Klapwijk, Jonathan A. Walter, Anikó Hirka, György Csóka, Christer Björkman, Andrew M. Liebhold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Studies of transient population dynamics have largely focused on temporal changes in dynamical behaviour, such as the transition between periods of stability and instability. This study explores a related dynamic pattern, namely transient synchrony during a 49-year period among populations of five sympatric species of forest insects that share host tree resources. The long time series allows a more comprehensive exploration of transient synchrony patterns than most previous studies. Considerable variation existed in the dynamics of individual species, ranging from periodic to aperiodic. We used time-averaged methods to investigate long-term patterns of synchrony and time-localized methods to detect transient synchrony. We investigated transient patterns of synchrony between species and related these to the species' varying density dependence structures; even species with very different density dependence exhibited at least temporary periods of synchrony. Observed periods of interspecific synchrony may arise from interactions with host trees (e.g., induced host defences), interactions with shared natural enemies or shared impacts of environmental stochasticity. The transient nature of synchrony observed here raises questions both about the identity of synchronizing mechanisms and how these mechanisms interact with the endogenous dynamics of each species. We conclude that these patterns are the result of interspecific interactions that act only temporarily to synchronize populations, after which differences in the endogenous population dynamics among the species acts to desynchronize their dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1058-1068
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Moran effect
  • forest pest
  • population dynamics
  • sympatric species
  • time-series analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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  • Cite this

    Klapwijk, M. J., Walter, J. A., Hirka, A., Csóka, G., Björkman, C., & Liebhold, A. M. (2018). Transient synchrony among populations of five foliage-feeding Lepidoptera. Journal of Animal Ecology, 87(4), 1058-1068.