Constant harvest policies for fish and wildlife populations can lead to population collapse in the face of stochastic variation in population growth rates. Here, we show that weak compensatory response by resource users or managers to changing levels of resource abundance can readily induce harvest cycles that accentuate the risk of catastrophic population collapse. Dynamic system models incorporating this mix of feedback predict that cycles or quasi-cycles with decadal periodicity should commonly occur in harvested wildlife populations, with effort and quotas lagging far behind resources, whereas harvests should exhibit lags of intermediate length. Empirical data gathered from three hunted populations of white-tailed deer and moose were consistent with these predictions of both underlying behavioral causes and dynamical consequences.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||4|
|State||Published - May 14 2010|