Collapsing Population Cycles

Trends Ecol Evol. 2008 Feb;23(2):79-86. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2007.10.010. Epub 2008 Jan 11.


During the past two decades population cycles in voles, grouse and insects have been fading out in Europe. Here, we discuss the cause and implication of these changes. Several lines of evidence now point to climate forcing as the general underlying cause. However, how climate interacts with demography to induce regime shifts in population dynamics is likely to differ among species and ecosystems. Herbivores with high-amplitude population cycles, such as voles, lemmings, snowshoe hares and forest Lepidoptera, form the heart of terrestrial food web dynamics. Thus, collapses of these cycles are also expected to imply collapses of important ecosystem functions, such as the pulsed flows of resources and disturbances.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arvicolinae*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Galliformes
  • Greenhouse Effect*
  • Linear Models
  • Models, Biological*
  • Moths
  • Population Dynamics
  • Time Factors