How seasonally varying predation behaviour and climate shifts affect predator-prey cycles

Mon, Oct 5, 2015, 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Rebecca C. Tyson - University of British Columbia (Okanagan)
While mathematical models have established that predator-prey interactions can drive population cycles, the assumption has always been that the functional response of the predator is an inherent property of that particular predator-prey interaction, and therefore does not vary substantially. There is evidence however, that some predators respond to strong seasonal environmental variation with a behavioral shift from generalist hunting, when many prey species are available, to specialist hunting, when few species are present. This shift in prey availability is particularly pronounced at northern latitudes, where seasonal forcing is both very strong and experiencing dramatic shifts through climate change. We are then led to explore two questions: (1) How does a seasonal change in predation behaviour affect the dynamics of the prey and predator populations? and (2) How will these dynamics be affected by climate change? Motivated by experimental data on great horned owl Bubo virginialis behaviour from the boreal forest, we use a novel, periodic predator-prey model to address these questions.
209 Eno Hall

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