Indirect effects of prey fluctuation on survival of juvenile arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus): a matter of maternal experience and litter attendance
2017 (English)In: Canadian Journal of Zoology, ISSN 0008-4301, E-ISSN 1480-3283, Vol. 95, 239-246 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
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.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 95, 239-246 p.
arctic fox, Vulpes lagopus, juvenile survival, small rodents, cyclic, maternal experience, behaviour, intraguild predation
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-140943DOI: 10.1139/cjz-2016-0103OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-140943DiVA: diva2:1084250