Frank J. Sonleitner
Associate Professor Emeritus of Biology
Currently, development of Monte Carlo computer simulation models and their use in studying (1) the growth of single species populations governed by density-dependent factors and (2) the interaction of population dynamical and genetic factors in the growth of single species populations containing three genotypes (two alleles at one locus) are being carried out. In the purely ecological models, the relationship between various patterns of age-specific mortality and fecundity, age distribution, rate of increase and various types of density-governing factors (affecting mortality and fecundity in various combinations and ways) is being studied, in particular their role in establishing a steady state situation or producing fluctuations in size (i.e. conformation to Lotka's law for populations with completely overlapping generations). In the eco-genetic model, the web of interactions is expanded to include several genotypes, possibly differing in fitness as defined by their age-specific mortality and fecundity. Here, the interplay of Lotka's law and the Hardy-Weinberg law, the effect of different kinds of density-governing factors of population size upon the course of selection for one genotype over another, the effects of generation time, etc., are being studied.
This research is still in the stage where fairly simple situations are being investigated that can also be analyzed by more classical techniques so that the basic rationale of the simulation procedures may be evaluated; and new principles, emerging from certain of the interactions, may be adequately tested. Future work is contemplated in which an ecogenetic model for Tribolium populations is constructed.
Previous research interest has centered in the field of population dynamics, especially of insect populations, including the growth and regulation of laboratory populations of the flour beetle, Tribolium; estimation of the size and growth of field populations of the Queensland Fruit-fly, Dacus tryoni, in Eastern Australia; laboratory studies of the rate of increase of selected genetic strains of the housefly, Musca domestica, under several conditions of larval density. The simple, but specialized, equipment necessary for carrying out population experiments on Tribolium, along with a stock of these beetles, are available.