Predator vole interactions in northern Europe: the role of small mustelids revised
Korpela, K., Helle, P., Henttonen, H., Korpimäki, E., Koskela, E., Ovaskainen, O., . . . Huitu, O. (2014). Predator–vole interactions in northern Europe: the role of small mustelids revised. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological sciences, 281 (1797), 20142119. doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.2119
DisciplineEkologia ja evoluutiobiologia
© 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society.
The cyclic population dynamics of vole and predator communities is a key phenomenon in northern ecosystems, and it appears to be influenced by climate change. Reports of collapsing rodent cycles have attributed the changes to warmer winters, which weaken the interaction between voles and their specialist subnivean predators. Using population data collected throughout Finland during 1986–2011, we analyse the spatio-temporal variation in the interactions between populations of voles and specialist, generalist and avian predators, and investigate by simulations the roles of the different predators in the vole cycle. We test the hypothesis that vole population cyclicity is dependent on predator–prey interactions during winter. Our results support the importance of the small mustelids for the vole cycle. However, weakening specialist predation during winters, or an increase in generalist predation, was not associated with the loss of cyclicity. Strengthening of delayed density dependence coincided with strengthening small mustelid influence on the summer population growth rates of voles. In conclusion, a strong impact of small mustelids during summers appears highly influential to vole population dynamics, and deteriorating winter conditions are not a viable explanation for collapsing small mammal population cycles. ...