Do changes in berry crops drive population fluctuations in small rodents in the southwestern Yukon?

Charles Krebs, K Cowcill, Rudy Boonstra, Alice Kenney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Small mammals in boreal forest ecosystems fluctuate dramatically in abundance and 1 possible mechanism to explain these changes is the bottom-up hypothesis of variation in food supplies. Here we ask if variation in berry crops produced by 6 major species of dwarf shrubs and herbs, epigeous mushroom crops, and white spruce seeds allow us to predict changes in the abundance of the red-backed vole (Myodes [= Clethrionomys] rutilus), the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), and field voles (Microtus oeconomus and M. pennsylvanicus combined) over 13 years (1997-2009) in the Kluane Lake region of the southwestern Yukon, Canada. M. rutilus is the dominant rodent in these forests, comprising 64 of the catch. Overwinter survival is a key demographic variable in all these rodents, and the winter food supply-principally berries produced the previous summermay be 1 key to overwinter survival. We predicted that berry, mushroom, and tree seed crops in year t would produce changes in rodent density in year t + 1. We could explain statistically 78-98% of the variation in May and August abundance of all 3 rodent species with indices of berry crops and mushrooms in the previous summer. For M. rutilus the critical predictor was berry crops of Empetrum nigrum. For P. maniculatus, the critical species were Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, A. rubra, and mushrooms. Spruce seed crops were not significantly correlated with rodent densities or changes in density. A large fraction of the variation in rodent numbers in this ecosystem is explained by a simple bottom-up model of population limitation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-509
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Mammalogy
Volume91
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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Yukon Territory
Arvicolinae
rodent
small fruits
Rodentia
Fruit
rodents
Agaricales
mushroom
Rutilus
mushrooms
crop
crops
Peromyscus
Population
Seeds
Peromyscus maniculatus
Food Supply
food supply
seed

Cite this

Krebs, Charles ; Cowcill, K ; Boonstra, Rudy ; Kenney, Alice. / Do changes in berry crops drive population fluctuations in small rodents in the southwestern Yukon?. In: Journal of Mammalogy. 2010 ; Vol. 91, No. 2. pp. 500-509.
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abstract = "Small mammals in boreal forest ecosystems fluctuate dramatically in abundance and 1 possible mechanism to explain these changes is the bottom-up hypothesis of variation in food supplies. Here we ask if variation in berry crops produced by 6 major species of dwarf shrubs and herbs, epigeous mushroom crops, and white spruce seeds allow us to predict changes in the abundance of the red-backed vole (Myodes [= Clethrionomys] rutilus), the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), and field voles (Microtus oeconomus and M. pennsylvanicus combined) over 13 years (1997-2009) in the Kluane Lake region of the southwestern Yukon, Canada. M. rutilus is the dominant rodent in these forests, comprising 64 of the catch. Overwinter survival is a key demographic variable in all these rodents, and the winter food supply-principally berries produced the previous summermay be 1 key to overwinter survival. We predicted that berry, mushroom, and tree seed crops in year t would produce changes in rodent density in year t + 1. We could explain statistically 78-98{\%} of the variation in May and August abundance of all 3 rodent species with indices of berry crops and mushrooms in the previous summer. For M. rutilus the critical predictor was berry crops of Empetrum nigrum. For P. maniculatus, the critical species were Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, A. rubra, and mushrooms. Spruce seed crops were not significantly correlated with rodent densities or changes in density. A large fraction of the variation in rodent numbers in this ecosystem is explained by a simple bottom-up model of population limitation.",
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Do changes in berry crops drive population fluctuations in small rodents in the southwestern Yukon? / Krebs, Charles; Cowcill, K; Boonstra, Rudy; Kenney, Alice.

In: Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 91, No. 2, 2010, p. 500-509.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Do changes in berry crops drive population fluctuations in small rodents in the southwestern Yukon?

AU - Krebs, Charles

AU - Cowcill, K

AU - Boonstra, Rudy

AU - Kenney, Alice

PY - 2010

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N2 - Small mammals in boreal forest ecosystems fluctuate dramatically in abundance and 1 possible mechanism to explain these changes is the bottom-up hypothesis of variation in food supplies. Here we ask if variation in berry crops produced by 6 major species of dwarf shrubs and herbs, epigeous mushroom crops, and white spruce seeds allow us to predict changes in the abundance of the red-backed vole (Myodes [= Clethrionomys] rutilus), the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), and field voles (Microtus oeconomus and M. pennsylvanicus combined) over 13 years (1997-2009) in the Kluane Lake region of the southwestern Yukon, Canada. M. rutilus is the dominant rodent in these forests, comprising 64 of the catch. Overwinter survival is a key demographic variable in all these rodents, and the winter food supply-principally berries produced the previous summermay be 1 key to overwinter survival. We predicted that berry, mushroom, and tree seed crops in year t would produce changes in rodent density in year t + 1. We could explain statistically 78-98% of the variation in May and August abundance of all 3 rodent species with indices of berry crops and mushrooms in the previous summer. For M. rutilus the critical predictor was berry crops of Empetrum nigrum. For P. maniculatus, the critical species were Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, A. rubra, and mushrooms. Spruce seed crops were not significantly correlated with rodent densities or changes in density. A large fraction of the variation in rodent numbers in this ecosystem is explained by a simple bottom-up model of population limitation.

AB - Small mammals in boreal forest ecosystems fluctuate dramatically in abundance and 1 possible mechanism to explain these changes is the bottom-up hypothesis of variation in food supplies. Here we ask if variation in berry crops produced by 6 major species of dwarf shrubs and herbs, epigeous mushroom crops, and white spruce seeds allow us to predict changes in the abundance of the red-backed vole (Myodes [= Clethrionomys] rutilus), the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), and field voles (Microtus oeconomus and M. pennsylvanicus combined) over 13 years (1997-2009) in the Kluane Lake region of the southwestern Yukon, Canada. M. rutilus is the dominant rodent in these forests, comprising 64 of the catch. Overwinter survival is a key demographic variable in all these rodents, and the winter food supply-principally berries produced the previous summermay be 1 key to overwinter survival. We predicted that berry, mushroom, and tree seed crops in year t would produce changes in rodent density in year t + 1. We could explain statistically 78-98% of the variation in May and August abundance of all 3 rodent species with indices of berry crops and mushrooms in the previous summer. For M. rutilus the critical predictor was berry crops of Empetrum nigrum. For P. maniculatus, the critical species were Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, A. rubra, and mushrooms. Spruce seed crops were not significantly correlated with rodent densities or changes in density. A large fraction of the variation in rodent numbers in this ecosystem is explained by a simple bottom-up model of population limitation.

KW - Berry production

KW - Bottom-up control

KW - Microtus

KW - Mushrooms

KW - Myodes rutilus

KW - Peromyscus maniculatus

KW - Population limitation

KW - White spruce seed

KW - Yukon.

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EP - 509

JO - Journal of Mammalogy

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SN - 0022-2372

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