Forest fires and the snowshoe hare-Canada lynx cycle
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): John F. Fox
Publication Year: 1978

Cataloging Information

  • boreal forests
  • brush fires
  • Canada
  • habitat types
  • habits and behavior
  • Lepus americanus
  • lightning caused fires
  • Lynx canadensis
  • mammals
  • plant growth
  • precipitation
  • predator-prey
  • small mammals
  • snowshoe hare
  • succession
  • succession
  • wildfires
  • wildlife
  • wildlife food plants
  • wildlife habitat
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 4040
Tall Timbers Record Number: 9408
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


This paper shows that there is a reasonable coincidence between the Canada lynx cycle and the occurrence of forest and brush fires. Fires set in motion plant succession, potentially leading to an increase in snowshoe hares (Grange, 1965). Snowfall is also correlated with the lynx cycle and tends to account for the variation not accounted for by fires. I conclude that Grange's (1949, 1965) hypothesis that fire and plant succession drive the snowshoe hare cycle deserves serious consideration, as do Butler's (1962) and Watt's (1968, 1973) suggestions that precipitation may drive or decisively modify furbearer cycles. On this evidence, the snowshoe hare-Canada lynx cycle seems likely to be a forced oscillation rather than a predator-prey, parasitehost, or herbivore-vegetation limit cycle, as proposed by several authors. Fire clearly appear to be a periodic phenomenon, not-withstanding the difficulty of showing periodicity in simple weather time series. Fire is itself a meteorological phenomenon, although complexly related to simple weather variables.

Online Link(s):
Fox, John F. 1978. Forest fires and the snowshoe hare-Canada lynx cycle. Oecologia 31(3):349-374.