Dynamics of the Arctic Fox Population in Sweden
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology
Article in journal (Refereed)
Annales Zoologici Fennici
NORTHERN ALASKA, DENNING BEHAVIOR, ALOPEX-LAGOPUS, FOOD
Arctic fox populations fluctuate widely with the abundance of prey, i.e. lemmings and voles (Arvicolinae). We have investigated the patterns and mechanisms of these fluctuations in arctic fox numbers through den inventories during 20 years (1974-1993) in Sweden. Time series analyses confirmed a four-year cyclicity in both arctic fox numbers and litter size. However, the different geographical regions were not in synchrony. The fox population in the southern parts of the distribution range has shown regular peaks during the whole period, whereas those in the northern and middle parts of Sweden have declined since 1982. In the northernmost county, also litter sizes have decreased. These differences coincided with an absence of vole and lemming peaks in the north. Experimental feeding confirmed that food availability had a direct impact on breeding success and litter size, thereby limiting the population. We conclude that the total number of arctic foxes in Sweden in 1994 is as low as 40-80 animals.
ISI Document Delivery No.: RB121 Times Cited: 46 Cited Reference Count: 52