Wolves, Moose, and the Allometry of Population Cycles

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Science  22 Jun 1984:
Vol. 224, Issue 4655, pp. 1350-1352
DOI: 10.1126/science.224.4655.1350


After a decade of dramatic population fluctuations, protected populations of wolves and moose in Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior returned in 1983 to the levels observed in the 1950's. Inherent lags in this predator-prey system and the strong recovery of the moose population following a wolf population crash suggest that these populations may continue to cycle with a period length of about 38 (95 percent confidence interval, ±13) years. Such a long-term cycle is consistent with the proposal that period length of herbivore population cycles will characteristically scale according to the fourth root of body mass, a basic allometric relation linking physiological cycles to population processes.

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