From patterns to processes: Phase and density dependencies in the Canadian lynx cycle

Nils C. Stenseth, Wilhelm Falck, Kung Sik Chan, Ottar N. Bjørnstad, Mark O'Donoghue, Howell Tong, Rudy Boonstra, Stan Boutin, Charles J. Krebs, Nigel G. Yoccoz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


Across the boreal forest of North America, lynx populations undergo 10- year cycles. Analysis of 21 time series from 1821 to the present demonstrates that these fluctuations are generated by nonlinear processes with regulatory delays. Trophic interactions between lynx and hares cause delayed density- dependent regulation of lynx population growth. The nonlinearity, in contrast, appears to arise from phase dependencies in hunting success by lynx through the cycle. Using a combined approach of empirical, statistical, and mathematical modeling, we highlight how shifts in trophic interactions between the lynx and the hare generate the nonlinear process primarily by shifting functional response curves during the increase and the decrease phases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15430-15435
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number26
StatePublished - Dec 22 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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