For at least a century, ecologists have wondered at the tendency for populations of different species to cycle up and down in steady, rhythmic patterns.
“These cycles can be really exaggerated — really huge booms and huge busts — and quite regular,” said Daniel Reuman, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas and senior scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey. “It attracted people’s attention because it was kind of mysterious. Why would such a big thing be happening?”
A second observation in animal populations might be even harder to fathom: Far-flung communities of species, sometimes separated by hundreds of miles, often fluctuate in synchrony with one another — an effect known as “spatial synchrony.” MORE
Header image: Researchers at KU have detected a three-to-seven-year weather fluctuation directly influenced synchronous population cycles in Wisonsin deer. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.