Carnivore conservation in practice: replicatedmanagement actions on a large spatial scale
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
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.
Alopex, arctic, climate, extinction, population cycles, restoration, SEFALO, Vulpes
Research subject Animal Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-87916DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12033ISI: 000314520500008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-87916DiVA: diva2:607592