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Indirect effects of prey fluctuation on survival of juvenile arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus): a matter of maternal experience and litter attendance
Stockholms universitet, Naturvetenskapliga fakulteten, Zoologiska institutionen, Avdelningen för zoologisk ekologi.ORCID-id: 0000-0002-9207-5709
Stockholms universitet, Naturvetenskapliga fakulteten, Zoologiska institutionen, Avdelningen för zoologisk ekologi.
Stockholms universitet, Naturvetenskapliga fakulteten, Zoologiska institutionen, Avdelningen för zoologisk ekologi.
Stockholms universitet, Naturvetenskapliga fakulteten, Zoologiska institutionen, Avdelningen för zoologisk ekologi.ORCID-id: 0000-0001-5535-9086
2017 (engelsk)Inngår i: Canadian Journal of Zoology, ISSN 0008-4301, E-ISSN 1480-3283, Vol. 95, s. 239-246Artikkel i tidsskrift (Fagfellevurdert) Published
Abstract [en]

Reproductive experience affects juvenile survival in a wide range of species with possible links to differences in foraging capacity and predation. Using supplementary feeding, we aimed to limit direct effect of prey abundance to investigate indirect effects of small-rodent availability and maternal experience on juvenile summer survival rates in an endangered population of arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus (L., 1758)). We used data spanning 7 years, included a complete small-rodent cycle, comprising 49 litters and 394 cubs. The effect of small-rodent abundance on juvenile survival depended on maternal breeding experience. Cubs born by first-time-breeding females had lower survival rate when small-rodent abundance was low compared with juveniles born to experienced mothers who remained unaffected. It was unlikely due to starvation, as physical condition was unrelated to survival. Instead, we favour the explanation that intraguild predation was an important cause of mortality. There was a negative relationship between survival and amount of time cubs were left unattended, suggesting that parental behaviour affected predation. We propose that a prey switch related to small-rodent abundance caused fluctuations in intraguild predation pressure and that inexperienced females were less able to cope with predation when small rodents were scarce.

sted, utgiver, år, opplag, sider
2017. Vol. 95, s. 239-246
Emneord [en]
arctic fox, Vulpes lagopus, juvenile survival, small rodents, cyclic, maternal experience, behaviour, intraguild predation
HSV kategori
Forskningsprogram
zoologisk ekologi
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-140943DOI: 10.1139/cjz-2016-0103ISI: 000399167300002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-140943DiVA, id: diva2:1084250
Prosjekter
Svenska fjällrävsprojektetTilgjengelig fra: 2017-03-24 Laget: 2017-03-24 Sist oppdatert: 2022-02-28bibliografisk kontrollert
Inngår i avhandling
1. Spatial and temporal population dynamics in the mountain tundra – mesopredator and prey
Åpne denne publikasjonen i ny fane eller vindu >>Spatial and temporal population dynamics in the mountain tundra – mesopredator and prey
2019 (engelsk)Doktoravhandling, med artikler (Annet vitenskapelig)
Abstract [en]

It is well known that competition, predation and fluctuating food resources can have strong effect on individual fitness and population dynamics. The complexity of natural systems can make it complicate to disentangle those processes, but environments with relatively simple food webs, and strong cyclic population dynamics offer contrasting conditions resembling experimental treatments. This thesis concerns the spatial and temporal implications of fluctuations in small rodent abundance on two trophic levels in a highly cyclic ecosystem, the Scandinavian mountain tundra. The first two chapters focus on plant biomass and spatiotemporal distribution in the Norwegian lemming (Lemmus lemmus), while the three last papers focus on the direct and indirect effects of small rodent fluctuations and territory quality on reproductive success, juvenile survival and group living in a lemming specialist mesopredator, the arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus). By developing, validating and applying a novel application of aerial photos for remote sensing of plant biomass (Chapter I), we found that food availability predicted lemming distribution during population peaks, but that they were more habitat specific during increase years when intraspecific competition was lower (Chapter II). Arctic fox reproduction is tightly connected to small rodent abundance but the effects of geographical variation in food availability is less well known. We used 17 years of population surveys of an arctic fox subpopulation in mid Sweden (Helagsfjällen) to investigate potential effects. During small rodent increase years, we found that arctic fox litter sizes were smaller in territories of intermediate plant productivity, compared to both more and less productive territories (Chapter III). This could be an effect of limited food availability together with increased presence of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), a stronger and potentially lethal competitor. However, when small rodents peaked, and competition would be expected to decrease, we saw no effect of territory productivity. Based on a smaller data set concerning juvenile summer survival, we found that the mortality rate among juveniles born by first time breeding arctic fox females were more sensitive to low small rodent prey abundance (Chapter IV). We explain it with an increased predation pressure from top-predators that switch from small rodents to alternative prey when small rodents decline, as suggested by an observed positive effect on juvenile survival by adult presence on den sites. Arctic foxes are socially flexible, and several adults can share a den with the resident pair, potentially increasing juvenile survival and help in territorial defence. Returning to the 17-year data set, we tested the Resource Dispersion Hypothesis predicting that increased resource availability should increase group size (Chapter V). We found support for this prediction as group living increased during the small rodent peak phase. However, it remained unexpectedly high during the decrease phase, when resources are scarce. This could however be related to increased predation pressure, and an increasing benefit of group living.

sted, utgiver, år, opplag, sider
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2019. s. 17
Emneord
population dynamics, cyclic, mountain tundra, arctic fox, Norwegian lemming, small rodents, mesopredator, predation, survival, reproduction
HSV kategori
Forskningsprogram
zoologisk ekologi
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-162539 (URN)978-91-7797-540-3 (ISBN)978-91-7797-541-0 (ISBN)
Disputas
2019-01-25, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:00 (engelsk)
Opponent
Veileder
Merknad

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 5: Manuscript.

Tilgjengelig fra: 2018-12-19 Laget: 2018-11-30 Sist oppdatert: 2022-02-26bibliografisk kontrollert

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