Study finds change in snow cover patterns making snowshoe hare more vulnerable
Snowshoe hare is the primary food of the lynx. The population cycles of these two species are closely linked. When hares are plentiful, lynx eat little else and. The lynx and snowshoe hare predator-prey system in the Kluane The specific hypothesis is that climate influences the relationship between lynx and hare abundance. . Canada than the Paciﬁc North American (PNA) index, another the association between climate warming and the disappearance of. The relationship between the Canada lynx and snowshoe hare is considered a classic example of a predator-prey interaction.
Canada Lynx and Snowshoe Hare
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Canada Lynx and Snowshoe Hare | AMNH
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No snow, no hares: Climate change pushes emblematic species north
Canada lynx populations rise and fall with fluctuations in populations of snowshoe hares. Thus, when hares are abundant, lynx populations expand, and when the density of hares is reduced, lynx are forced to hunt ground squirrelsgrouseand foxes.
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Though they occasionally kill larger animals such as a white-tailed deerthe shift away from hares takes its toll, and lynx populations ultimately shrink. But while it is known that the growth or reduction of Canada lynx populations is tied to the population density of snowshoe hares, why hare populations fluctuate in the first place remains a bit of a mystery.
Snowshoe hares experience changes in population density in cycles spanning periods of about 8 to 11 years.
Climate change affecting predator-prey balance
During a cycle, their density may increase by as much as fold and then drop precipitously. It was once thought that the rapid declines were mainly the result of predation by lynx, but studies of snowshoe hare populations in places where lynx are not very abundant or are absent altogether—places such as Jacquot Island in southwestern Yukon and Prince Edward Island in eastern Canada—revealed that island snowshoe hares, like their mainland counterparts, also experience cyclic fluctuations.
A snowshoe hare displaying its brown-colored summer coat. In The Conservation of the Wild Life of CanadaHewitt graphed the data from the records for a period extending from into the first decades of the s. His graphs emphasized the close relationship in population density between snowshoe hares and Canada lynx.
Proposed causes have ranged from disease to predation to constraints in food supply.