Matrix models and sensitivity analysis of populations classified by age and stage: a vec-permutation matrix approach Academic Article uri icon


  • Matrix population models in which individuals are classified by both age and stage can be constructed using the vec-permutation matrix. The resulting age-stage models can be used to derive the age-specific consequences of a stage-specific life history or to describe populations in which the vital rates respond to both age and stage. I derive a general formula for the sensitivity of any output (scalar, vector, or matrix-valued) of the model, to any vector of parameters, using matrix calculus. The matrices describing age-stage dynamics are almost always reducible; I present results giving conditions under which population growth is ergodic from any initial condition. As an example, I analyze a published stage-specific model of Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius), an invasive perennial shrub. Sensitivity analysis of the population growth rate finds that the selection gradients on adult survival do not always decrease with age but may increase over a range of ages. This may have implications for the evolution of senescence in stage-classified populations. I also derive and analyze the joint distribution of age and stage at death and present a sensitivity analysis of this distribution and of the marginal distribution of age at death.

publication date

  • August 2012