Lynx (Felis lynx) hunting snowshoe hare.

Many cyclic herbivores and their predators undergo dramatic fluctuations in abundance in northern latitudes but exhibit damped cyclic dynamics in their respective southern ranges.  While data on southern populations is limited, increased habitat fragmentation and higher numbers of generalist predators are two features of southern habitats that have been identified as possible explanations for this north-south gradient in cycle amplitude. Using the snowshoe hare and Canada lynx system as a case study system, I am exploring the relative and combined impacts of habitat loss and generalist predation on predator-prey cycles with reaction-diffusion equations. The results from this theoretical study will provide insight into which data types should be collected in future field work to empirically evaluate hypotheses concerning the damping of population cycles.

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