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.
2011. Vol. 48, no 3, 167-179 p.