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Forage Interactions and Black-Tailed Jack Rabbit Population Dynamics: A Simulation Model

William R. Clark and George S. Innis
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 46, No. 4 (Oct., 1982), pp. 1018-1035
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3808235
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3808235
Page Count: 18
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Forage Interactions and Black-Tailed Jack Rabbit Population Dynamics: A Simulation Model
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Abstract

We describe a simulation model that estimates the energy and protein demand, body weight fluctuations, and population density changes of black-tailed jack rabbits (Lepus californicus), and tests the hypothesis that dense populations are limited by forage resources. Using field and literature values for energy and nitrogen requirements for maintenance, growth, and reproduction, we estimated the demand for forage resources by fluctuating jack rabbit populations in Curlew Valley, Utah. The model produced body weight dynamics within error estimates of measured body weights of both sexes for 90% of an annual cycle. Simulated daily energy requirements (161.2 kcal/kg/day) and daily nitrogen requirements (353.6 mg/kg/day) were within 10% of reported empirical values. Sensitivity analysis of model parameters and variables suggests that output is most sensitive to variations in such inputs as digestive efficiency and maximum consumption rate. Simulated populations, at peak densities, consumed <1% of available forage resources and there was no significant difference at different population levels in simulated energy or protein difference state. We conclude that the observed declines from population peaks, characteristic of this oscillatory population, must be caused by ecological mechanisms other than food resource depletion.

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