Misconceptions about the comparison of intrinsic rates of natural increase
The intrinsic rate of natural increase (r m ) is a common measurement in entomology to describe and evaluate the growth and adaptation of a population of arthropods to certain environmental conditions. Following the method of Birch, the r m is the solution of an exponential equation, which depends on the whole life cycle of each female and her survival time. A simplification of this equation was provided by Wyatt and White, which allows the study to be shortened as it does not depend on any survival times and only a part of the life cycle of the females. Therefore, this method has become quite popular among entomologists. As the r m is a population parameter, it lacks any variance and thus a valid statistical comparison of r m s for different populations is not straightforward. Hence, many approaches include statistical misconceptions. We discuss those approaches, apply them to real data and demonstrate some drawbacks of them. Furthermore, we present an easy to implement and consistent method for the comparison of r m s.
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