Canid Social Structure and Density Dependence Improve Predator-Prey Models of Canis latrans and Lepus californicus in Curlew Valley, UT

DOI: 10.4236/oje.2015.54011   PDF   HTML   XML   3,700 Downloads   4,169 Views  


Prominent examples of predator-prey oscillations between prey-specific predators exist, but long-term data sets showing these oscillations are uncommon. We explored various models to describe the oscillating behavior of coyote (Canis latrans) and black-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus californicus) abundances in a sagebrush-steppe community in Curlew Valley, UT over a 31-year period between 1962 and 1993. We tested both continuous and discrete models which accounted for a variety of mechanisms to discriminate the most important factors affecting the time series. Both species displayed cycles in abundance with three distinct peaks at ten-year intervals. The coupled oscillations appear greater in the mid-seventies and a permanent increase in the coyote density seems apparent. Several factors could have influenced this predator-prey system including seasonality, predator satiation, density dependence, social structure among coyotes, and a change in the coyote bounty that took place during the course of data collection. Maximum likelihood estimation was used to obtain parameter values for the models, and Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) values were used to compare models. Coyote social structure and limiting resources in the form of density-dependence and satiation seemed to be important factors affecting population dynamics.

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Kay, S. , Powell, J. and Knowlton, F. (2015) Canid Social Structure and Density Dependence Improve Predator-Prey Models of Canis latrans and Lepus californicus in Curlew Valley, UT. Open Journal of Ecology, 5, 120-135. doi: 10.4236/oje.2015.54011.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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