O.N. Bjørnstad: Cycles and synchrony - two historical ‘experiments’ and an experience

Journal of Animal Ecology (2000), 69: 869-873


1. Theoretical models predict that spatial synchrony should be enhanced in cyclic populations due to nonlinear phase-locking. 2. This is supported by Rohani et al.'s (1999) comparison of spatial synchrony of epidemics in two childhood diseases prior to and during the vaccination era. Measles is both more synchronous and more cyclic before vaccination. Whooping cough, in contrast, is more synchronous during the vaccination era, during which multiannual fluctuations are also more conspicuous. 3. Steen et al. (1990) analysed historic records of cyclic rodents, to show that cyclicity was lost during the early part of the 20th century. I reanalyse the data, and find that the loss of cyclicity is associated with loss of regional synchrony. 4. I use a coupled map lattice model to show that imperfect phase-locking provides an alternative explanation for regionwide synchrony of cyclic populations.

Keywords: Coupled Map Lattice; Measles; Metapopulation correlation; Microtine rodents; Population dynamics; Spatial covariance; Vaccination