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Functional responses of rough-legged buzzards in a multi-prey system
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5124-2534
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5535-9086
2014 (English)In: Oecologia, ISSN 0029-8549, E-ISSN 1432-1939, Vol. 174, no 4, 1241-1254 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The functional response is a key element of predator–prey interactions. Basic functional response theory explains foraging behavior of individual predators, but many empirical studies of free-ranging predators have estimated functional responses by using population-averaged data. We used a novel approach to investigate functional responses of an avian predator (the rough legged-buzzard Buteo lagopus Pontoppidan, 1763) to intra-annual spatial variation in rodent density in subarctic sweden, using breeding pairs as the sampling unit. the rough-legged buzzards responded functionally to norwegian lemmings (Lemmus lemmus l. 1758), grey-sided voles (Myodes rufocanus Sundevall, 1846) and field voles (Microtus agrestis L. 1761), but different rodent prey were not utilised according to relative abundance. the functional response to norwegian lemmings was a steep type II curve and a more shallow type III response to grey-sided voles. the different shapes of these two functional responses were likely due to combined effects of differences between lemmings and grey-sided voles in habitat utilisation, anti-predator behaviour and size-dependent vulnerability to predation. Diet composition changed less than changes in relative prey abundance, indicating negative switching, with high disproportional use of especially lemmings at low relative densities. Our results suggest that lemmings and voles should be treated separately in future empirical and theoretical studies in order to better understand the role of predation in this study system.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 174, no 4, 1241-1254 p.
Keyword [en]
Predation, rodent cycle, Lemmus, subarctic
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-102723DOI: 10.1007/s00442-013-2866-6ISI: 000333171400017OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-102723DiVA: diva2:712937
Available from: 2014-04-17 Created: 2014-04-17 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. 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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