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The impact of maternal experience on post-weaning survival in an endangered arctic fox population
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9707-5206
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5535-9086
2011 (English)In: European Journal of Wildlife Research, ISSN 1612-4642, E-ISSN 1439-0574, Vol. 57, no 3, 549-553 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Behavioural differences in parental care can influence offspring survival through variation in e.g. antipredator behaviour and ability to provide food. In a broad range of species, offspring survival has been found to be higher for experienced females compared to inexperienced first-time breeders. The increase in offspring survival for experienced females has mainly been explained by improved experience in providing food. In this paper, we have studied post-weaning juvenile survival in relation to maternal experience in an endangered population of arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) in Fennoscandia. For cubs raised by inexperienced and experienced females, the survival rate was 0.42 (CI 95% +/- 0.31) and 0.87 (CI 95% +/- 0.08), respectively. There was no difference in body condition between the cubs and no observations of starvation. We suggest that the difference in survival was due to lack of experience to one of the most common predators, the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). Golden eagles were mainly observed on dens with litters where the females were inexperienced first-time breeders. From a conservation perspective, it is therefore important to increase adult survival through actions to enlarge the proportion of experienced breeders.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 57, no 3, 549-553 p.
Keyword [en]
Alopex lagopus, Conservation, Aquila chrysaetos, Parental experience, Population dynamics, Body index, Juvenile survival
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-67848DOI: 10.1007/s10344-010-0463-0ISI: 000290771400017OAI: diva2:471671

authorCount :3

Available from: 2012-01-02 Created: 2012-01-02 Last updated: 2014-10-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. To survive and reproduce in a cyclic environment – demography and conservation of the Arctic fox in Scandinavia
Open this publication in new window or tab >>To survive and reproduce in a cyclic environment – demography and conservation of the Arctic fox in Scandinavia
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis concerns the conservation and life history of the Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) in Scandinavia. The Arctic fox was historically a widely distributed species in the Scandinavian mountain tundra with a population size of approximately 10 000 individuals during years with high resource availability, i.e. rodent peaks. However, due to over-harvest in the end of the 19th century, the population numbers declined to a few hundred individuals. Although legally protected for more than 80 years, the population has remained small. The main causes of the non-recovery have been attributed to irregularities in the lemming cycle and increased competitions with the larger red fox. 

Through conservation actions including red fox culling and supplementary feeding, the population has started to recover in parts of its former distribution range. The Arctic fox is highly adapted to the lemming cycle and determine whether to reproduce or not and adjust the litter size relation to small rodent phase in combination with food abundance. In the small rodent increase phase, females produce litters equal to the peak phase, despite higher food abundance in the later. This overproduction of cubs can be selected for through a higher juvenile survival and reproductive value of cubs born in the increase phase compared to the other phases. The most important component affecting the reproductive value seem to be the survival during the first year after birth. In the small rodent increase phase 32% of the cubs survives their first year compared to 9% in the decrease phase. The Arctic fox in Scandinavia constitute an example of how a species can adapt their reproductive strategy to a fluctuating environment by adjustment of the reproduction.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2013. 31 p.
Conservation, life-history, Alopex lagopus, survival
National Category
Research subject
Animal Ecology
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-87404 (URN)978-91-7447-647-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-04-12, Magnélisalen, Kemiska övningslaboratoriet, Svante Arrhenius väg 16 B, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defence the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Accepted manuscript; Paper 5: Manuscript.

Available from: 2013-03-21 Created: 2013-02-05 Last updated: 2013-03-04Bibliographically approved

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Meijer, TomasNorén, KarinAngerbjörn, Anders
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