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Data from: Balancing food acquisition and predation risk drives demographic changes in snowshoe hare population cycles

Citation

Majchrzak, Yasmine (2022), Data from: Balancing food acquisition and predation risk drives demographic changes in snowshoe hare population cycles, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.pvmcvdnnj

Abstract

Snowshoe hare cycles are one of the most prominent phenomena in ecology. Experimental studies point to predation as the dominant driving factor, but previous experiments combining food supplementation and predator removal produced unexplained multiplicative effects on density. We examined the potential interactive effects of food limitation and predation in causing hare cycles using an individual based food-supplementation experiment over-winter across three cycle phases that naturally varied in predation risk. Supplementation doubled over-winter survival with the largest effects occurring in the late increase phase. Although the proximate cause of mortality was predation, supplemented hares significantly decreased foraging time and selected for conifer habitat, potentially reducing their predation risk. Supplemented hares also lost less body mass which resulted in the production of larger leverets. Our results establish a mechanistic link between how foraging time, mass loss, and predation risk affect survival and reproduction, potentially driving demographic changes associated with hare cycles.