Croll, Jasper C. and Ande M. De Roos
Plasticity is the extent to which life history processes such as growth and reproduction depend on the environment. Plasticity in individual growth varies widely between taxa. Nonetheless, little is known about the effect of plasticity in individual growth on the ecological dynamics of populations. In this article, we analyse a physiologically structured population model of a consumer population in which the individual growth rate can be varied between entirely plastic to entirely non-plastic. We derive this population level model from a dynamic energy budget model to ensure an accurate energetic coupling between ingestion, somatic maintenance, growth and reproduction within an individual. We show that the consumer population is either limited by adult fecundity or juvenile survival up to maturation, depending on the level of growth plasticity and the non-plastic individual growth rate. Under these two regimes, we also find two different types of population cycles which again arise due to fluctuation in, respectively, juvenile growth rate or adult fecundity. In the end, our model not only provides insight into the effects of growth plasticity on population dynamics, but also provides a link between the dynamics found in age- and size-structured models.