Report to Jim Reichman, Director NCEAS, from W. Murdoch
I have been on sabbatical at the Center since summer 1997. The purpose of the sabbatical is to write a research monograph synthesizing on the population dynamics of consumer-resource interactions, and particularly parasitoid-host interactions.
The core of the monograph is new body of theory developed by my co-authors (Cheryl Briggs and Roger Nisbet) and me that takes into account the life histories of host insects and the lifestyles of parasitoids. By life histories I mean the various life stages through which insects pass, and the attributes of these stages, and by lifestyles I mean the myriad ways in which parasitoids respond to the different attributes of different life stages in the same and different host species. The book also connects this theory to the other main modeling framework for hosts and parasitoids, namely Nicholson-Bailey models, and also to other types of consumer-resource models. Where possible, it compares models with real systems.
I have completed a draft of 8 of the12 chapters in the book, and these are now off with my first co-author, Cheryl Briggs. We are thus on target for getting a first draft of the book by the end of my sabbatical. We are about to complete a contract with Princeton University Press.
In addition to working on the book, I have taken part in two working groups. The first is the Complex Population Dynamics group, which met for 3 weeks at the end of 1997, and the second is the Population Management group, which met for a month in late summer. Both of these were periods of intense collaboration. There will be a separate report on each of group, and here I would simply like to say that groups that last at least this long really get a lot of work done. In my experience these are truly intense and effective working periods.
I have interacted in depth with a couple of the postdocs, Bruce Kendall and Fiorenza Michele, and have interacted more superficially with other postdocs at the Center, including for example attending and giving advice at practice "job talks." I am working with Bruce on a manuscript. I suggested a research question to Fio, and expect to continue to work with her and Peter Kareiva on the problem. I have interacted with other sabbatical fellows, especially John Thompson, Peter Kareiva, and more recently Fred Wagner. But, apart from Kareiva, these have not involved research. Kareiva and I are co-authors on a couple of papers from the population management group.