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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Apr 20;101(16):6056-61. Epub 2004 Apr 5.

The effect of climatic forcing on population synchrony and genetic structuring of the Canadian lynx.

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  • 1Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, Department of Biology, P.O. Box 1031 Blindern, and Bioinformatics Group, Department of Informatics, P.O. Box 1080 Blindern, University of Oslo, N-0316 Oslo, Norway.


The abundance of Canadian lynx follows 10-year density fluctuations across the Canadian subcontinent. These cyclic fluctuations have earlier been shown to be geographically structured into three climatic regions: the Atlantic, Continental, and Pacific zones. Recent genetic evidence revealed an essentially similar spatial structuring. Introducing a new population model, the "climate forcing of ecological and evolutionary patterns" model, we link the observed ecological and evolutionary patterns. Specifically, we demonstrate that there is greater phase synchrony within climatic zones than between them and show that external climatic forcing may act as a synchronizer. We simulated genetic drift by using data on population dynamics generated by the climate forcing of ecological and evolutionary patterns model, and we demonstrate that the observed genetic structuring can be seen as an emerging property of the spatiotemporal ecological dynamics.

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