Seasonally Varying Predation Behavior and Climate Shifts Are Predicted to Affect Predator-Prey Cycles

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Title: Seasonally Varying Predation Behavior and Climate Shifts Are Predicted to Affect Predator-Prey Cycles
Authors: Tyson, Rebecca
Lutscher, Frithjof
Date: 2016
Abstract: The functional response of some predator species changes from a pattern characteristic for a generalist to that for a specialist according to seasonally varying prey availability. Current theory does not address the dynamic consequences of this phenomenon. Since season length correlates strongly with altitude and latitude and is predicted to change under future climate scenarios, including this phenomenon in theoretical models seems essential for correct prediction of future ecosystem dynamics. We develop and analyze a two-season model for the great horned owl (Bubo virginialis) and snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus). These species form a predator-prey system in which the generalist to specialist shift in predation pattern has been documented empirically. We study the qualitative behavior of this predator-prey model community as summer season length changes. We find that relatively small changes in summer season length can have a profound impact on the system. In particular, when the predator has sufficient alternative resources available during the summer season, it can drive the prey to extinction, there can be coexisting stable states, and there can be stable large-amplitude limit cycles coexisting with a stable steady state. Our results illustrate that the impacts of global change on local ecosystems can be driven by internal system dynamics and can potentially have catastrophic consequences.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/37789
DOI: 10.1086/688665
CollectionMathématiques et statistiques // Mathematics and Statistics
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