The abundance of all organisms varies through time and across space and many populations can occasionally undergo dramatic exponential change. No population can remain at a stable equilibrium in which the number of individuals is constant because deaths and births cannot be in perfect balance. However, many populations do not show the explosive increases in number that their reproductive potential would allow, nor the violent collapses that their pathogens or predators could potentially inflict. This constraint on abundance can be viewed as a form of stability and has been long recognized.
Before examining how populations may be stabilized, it is informative to briefly examine typical time series to see the way populations can change through time.
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