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Changes in vole and lemming fluctuations in northern Sweden 1960-2008 revealed by fox dynamics
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5496-4727
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5124-2534
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5535-9086
2011 (English)In: Annales Zoologici Fennici, ISSN 0003-455X, Vol. 48, no 3, 167-179 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Cyclic dynamics with extensive spatial synchrony has long been regarded as characteristic of key herbivores at high latitudes. This contrasts to recent reports of fading cycles in arvicoline rodents in boreal and alpine Fennoscandia. We investigate the spatio-temporal dynamics of boreal red fox and alpine arctic fox in Sweden as a proxy for the dynamics of their main prey, voles and Norwegian lemming, respectively. We analyse data from five decades, 1960-2008, with wavelets and autocorrelation approaches. Cyclic dynamics were identified with at least one method in all populations (arctic fox n = 3, red fox n = 6). The dynamics were synchronous between populations, or coupled with a 1-yr lag, in 8 of 13 pairwise comparisons. Importantly though, the dynamics were heterogeneous in space and time. All analytical approaches identified fading cycles in the three arctic fox populations and two northern red fox populations. At least one method identified similar patterns in three southern red fox populations. Red fox dynamics were cyclic in the 1970s primarily, while arctic fox dynamics was cyclic until the late 1980s or early 1990s. When cyclic, 4-yr cycles dominated in arctic fox and northern red fox, whilst 3-4-yr cycles was found in southern red foxes. Significant cyclic regimes reappeared in the 1990s or 2000s in two red fox populations and one arctic fox population. Cycles and regionally coupled dynamics appeared associated in northern arctic and red foxes. This study supports accumulating evidence which suggests that cyclic and synchronous patterns in the dynamics of lemmings and voles are nonstationary in space and time. Furthermore, the similar patterns of change in both fox species indicate that persistence of cycles is governed by similar mechanisms in lemmings and voles.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 48, no 3, 167-179 p.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-55132DOI: 10.5735/086.048.0305ISI: 000292428100005OAI: diva2:401368
Formas, 2009-563
Available from: 2011-03-02 Created: 2011-03-02 Last updated: 2014-10-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Predator responses to non-stationary rodent cycles
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Predator responses to non-stationary rodent cycles
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Regular fluctuations in population size, cycles, are common in small mammals and have important effects on predator populations and life histories. In this thesis, I identify long-term patterns and processes in two specialist predators, the arctic fox Vulpes lagopus and the rough-legged buzzard Buteo lagopus, in relation to their prey (lemmings and voles) and in the case of the arctic fox also to a dominant competitor, the red fox Vulpes vulpes. The results demonstrate that the specialist predators as expected were limited by food supply, which was revealed by combining long-term monitoring with a pseudo-experimental approach. But dampening of cycles has led to long-term declines in the predator populations. Cycles in red and arctic foxes disappeared in the 1970s and 1980s. A return to cyclic dynamics was found locally in the red fox in the boreal zone, but monitoring in the mountain region identified a widespread return of cycles in both lemmings and voles in the early 2000s. This increase in natural food was sufficient to halt the decline in the arctic fox population, but a large-scale field experiment revealed that only supplementary fed subpopulations increased in size. Competition with the red fox further had a negative impact on the arctic fox population. A theoretical model suggested that this asymmetric competition is context dependent and most severe if red fox numbers are independent of rodent density due to access to alternative food. The number of breeding rough-legged buzzards was determined primarily by rodent abundance, but has been nearly halved since the 1970s and was decoupled from rodents in the most recent years. Reproductive output is currently also lower due to smaller clutch sizes. The functional responses of the rough-legged buzzard were complex and differed between lemmings and voles. Rodent cycles are clearly essential for maintaining biodiversity, but spatiotemporal patterns and effects on ecological communities are increasingly variable.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2014. 32 p.
Buteo lagopus, Vulpes lagopus, Lemmus, Myodes, population cycles, predation, numerical response, functional response, arctic, lemmings, voles, fox, monitoring, raptors
National Category
Research subject
Animal Ecology
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-102728 (URN)978-91-7447-922-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-05-28, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defence the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript.

Available from: 2014-05-06 Created: 2014-04-17 Last updated: 2014-10-28Bibliographically approved

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Elmhagen, BodilHellström, PeterAngerbjörn, Anders
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