A Tale of Big Game and Small Bugs

Science  13 Aug 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5430, pp. 1022-1023
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5430.1022

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Animal populations undergo repetitive cycles of rising and falling numbers. In a Perspective, Ranta and colleagues discuss the value of time-series analyses for examining the changing dynamics of animal populations. A large time series gathered by the Hudson Bay Company based on the fur trade has provided invaluable data on the rise and fall of the Canadian lynx population from 1821 to the present. Analysis of this time series reveals that climate as well as factors influencing birth and death rates are important in regulating the lynx population ( Stenseth et al.). In a separate study, mathematical modeling combined with fieldwork revealed the importance of predators in determining the population fluctuations of the southern pine beetle ( Turchin et al.)