Impact of Food and Predation on the Snowshoe Hare Cycle

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Science  25 Aug 1995:
Vol. 269, Issue 5227, pp. 1112-1115
DOI: 10.1126/science.269.5227.1112


Snowshoe hare populations in the boreal forests of North America go through 10-year cycles. Supplemental food and mammalian predator abundance were manipulated in a factorial design on 1-square-kilometer areas for 8 years in the Yukon. Two blocks of forest were fertilized to test for nutrient effects. Predator exclosure doubled and food addition tripled hare density during the cyclic peak and decline. Predator exclosure combined with food addition increased density 11-fold. Added nutrients increased plant growth but not hare density. Food and predation together had a more than additive effect, which suggests that a three-trophic-level interaction generates hare cycles.

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