Lynx - Hare cycle

Population cycles in Lynx & its prey  (Elton 1925)

    Changes in the abundance of predator species such as Lynx (Lynx canadensis) and various prey species such as Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus) are documented in records of the numbers of pelts brought into the Hudson Bay Company. The cycles are synchronous over a 12~13 year period, where the lynx cycle peaks slightly later than the hare cycle. This suggests a hypothesis that an abundance of hares feeds an increase in the number of Lynx, which subsequently depresses the number of Hares, and so on. However, hares also cycle in the absence of lynx. It has also been suggested that species-specific trapping effort may have varied, such that in the absence of hares in off years, more effort was invested in Lynx.

    The original data set, compiled by Charles Elton (1925), is notable as one of the longest time series in ecology.

Text material © 2021 by Steven M. Carr