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The relationship between wolverine and larger predators, lynx and wolf, in a historical ecosystem context
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8749-6111
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5496-4727
2014 (English)In: Oecologia, ISSN 0029-8549, E-ISSN 1432-1939, Vol. 175, no 2, 625-637 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Apex predators play an important role in shaping ecosystem structure. They may suppress smaller predators (mesopredators) but also subsidize scavengers via carrion provisioning. However, the importance of these interactions can change with ecosystem context. The wolverine (Gulo gulo) is a cold-adapted carnivore and facultative scavenger. It has a circumboreal distribution, where it could be either suppressed or subsidized by larger predators. In Scandinavia, the wolverine might interact with two larger predators, wolf (Canis lupus) and lynx (Lynx lynx), but human persecution decimated the populations in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. We investigated potential relationships between wolverine and the larger predators using hunting bag statistics from 15 Norwegian and Swedish counties in 1846-1922. Our best models showed a positive association between wolverine and lynx trends, taking ecological and human factors into account. There was also a positive association between year-to-year fluctuations in wolverine and wolf in the latter part of the study period. We suggest these associations could result from positive lynx-wolverine interactions through carrion provisioning, while wolves might both suppress wolverine and provide carrion with the net effect becoming positive when wolf density drops below a threshold. Wolverines could thus benefit from lynx presence and low-to-intermediate wolf densities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 175, no 2, 625-637 p.
National Category
Zoology Ecology
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-100766DOI: 10.1007/s00442-014-2918-6ISI: 000336378800017OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-100766DiVA: diva2:696038
Funder
Formas, 2009-563
Available from: 2014-02-12 Created: 2014-02-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Anthropogenic impact on predator guilds and ecosystem processes: Apex predator extinctions, land use and climate change
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Anthropogenic impact on predator guilds and ecosystem processes: Apex predator extinctions, land use and climate change
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Humans affect ecosystems by changing species compositions, landscape and climate. This thesis aims to increase our understanding of anthropogenic effects on mesopredator abundance due to changes in apex predator status, landscape and climate. I show that in Eurasia the abundance of a mesopredator, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), is limited top-down by the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) and bottom-up by winter severity. However, where lynx has been eradicated, fox abundance is instead related to bottom-factors such as cropland (paper I, II). Fox abundance was highest when croplands constituted 25% of the landscape (paper II). I also project red fox abundance in Sweden over the past 200 years and in future scenarios in relation to lynx density, land use and climate change. The projected fox abundance was highest in 1920, when lynx was eradicated and the proportion of cropland was 22%. In 2010, when lynx had recolonised, the projected fox abundance was lower than in 1920, but higher than in 1830. Future scenarios indicated that lynx abundance must increase in respond to climate change to keep fox at the same density as today. The results suggest a mesopredator release when lynx was eradicated, boosted by land use and climate change, and that changes in bottom-up factors can modify the relative strength of top-down factors (paper IV). From 1846-1922, lynx, wolverine (Gulo gulo) and grey wolf (Canis lupus) declined in Scandinavia due to persecution; however I show that the change in wolverine abundance was positively related to the changes in lynx and wolf abundance. This indicates that wolverine is subsidized by carrions from lynx and wolf kills rather than limited top-down by them (paper III). This thesis illustrates how mesopredator abundance is determined by a combination of top-down and bottom-up processes, and how anthropogenic impacts not only can change the structures of predator guilds, but also may modify top-down processes through changes in bottom-up factors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2014. 18 p.
Keyword
Mesopredators, apex predators, top-down, bottom-up, interspecific killing, red fox, Eurasian lynx, grey wolf, wolverine, productivity, winter severity, cropland
National Category
Zoology Ecology
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-100720 (URN)978-91-7447-860-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-03-21, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Submitted. Paper 3: Submitted. Paper 4: Manuscript.

 

Available from: 2014-02-27 Created: 2014-02-12 Last updated: 2017-06-29Bibliographically approved

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