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Carnivore conservation in practice: replicatedmanagement actions on a large spatial scale
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5535-9086
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5496-4727
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2013 (English)In: Journal of Applied Ecology, ISSN 0021-8901, E-ISSN 1365-2664, Vol. 50, no 1, 59-67 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

More than a quarter of the world’s carnivores are threatened, often due to multiple andcomplex causes. Considerable research efforts are devoted to resolving the mechanisms behindthese threats in order to provide a basis for relevant conservation actions. However, evenwhen the underlying mechanisms are known, specific actions aimed at direct support for carnivoresare difficult to implement and evaluate at efficient spatial and temporal scales.2. We report on a 30-year inventory of the critically endangered Fennoscandian arctic foxVulpes lagopus L., including yearly surveys of 600 fox dens covering 21 000 km2. These surveysshowed that the population was close to extinction in 2000, with 40–60 adult animalsleft. However, the population subsequently showed a fourfold increase in size.3. During this time period, conservation actions through supplementary feeding and predatorremoval were implemented in several regions across Scandinavia, encompassing 79% of thearea. To evaluate these actions, we examined the effect of supplemental winter feeding andred fox control applied at different intensities in 10 regions. A path analysis indicated that47% of the explained variation in population productivity could be attributed to lemmingabundance, whereas winter feeding had a 29% effect and red fox control a 20% effect.4. This confirms that arctic foxes are highly dependent on lemming population fluctuationsbut also shows that red foxes severely impact the viability of arctic foxes. This study also highlightsthe importance of implementing conservation actions on extensive spatial and temporalscales, with geographically dispersed actions to scientifically evaluate the effects. We note thatpopulation recovery was only seen in regions with a high intensity of management actions.5. Synthesis and applications. The present study demonstrates that carnivore populationdeclines may be reversed through extensive actions that target specific threats. Fennoscandianarctic fox is still endangered, due to low population connectivity and expected climate impactson the distribution and dynamics of lemmings and red foxes. Climate warming is expected tocontribute to both more irregular lemming dynamics and red fox appearance in tundra areas;however, the effects of climate change can be mitigated through intensive managementactions such as supplemental feeding and red fox control.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 50, no 1, 59-67 p.
Keyword [en]
Alopex, arctic, climate, extinction, population cycles, restoration, SEFALO, Vulpes
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-87916DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12033ISI: 000314520500008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-87916DiVA: diva2:607592
Available from: 2013-02-25 Created: 2013-02-25 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically 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.
Keyword
Conservation, life-history, Alopex lagopus, survival
National Category
Zoology
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
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)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

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
2. 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.
Keyword
Buteo lagopus, Vulpes lagopus, Lemmus, Myodes, population cycles, predation, numerical response, functional response, arctic, lemmings, voles, fox, monitoring, raptors
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
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)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

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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