Can landscape properties predict occurrence of grey-sided voles?

Christensen P, Ecke F, Sandstroem P, Nilsson M, & Hoernfeldt B (2008). Can landscape properties predict occurrence of grey-sided voles? Population Ecology 50 (2): 169-179. DOI:10.1007/s10144-008-0077-5.

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Abstract

There has been a long-term decline in spring and fall numbers of Clethrionomys rufocanus in boreal Sweden in 19712005. Previous studies on permanent sampling plots in the centre of 2.5 x 2.5 km landscapes suggested that habitat fragmentation (sensu destruction) could have contributed to the decline. Therefore, we tested these findings in a field study and compared trapping results on the central sampling plots of landscapes with a low degree of fragmentation (LDF) and of hot spot type with trapping results in managed forest landscapes with a high degree of fragmentation (HDF). We predicted that C. rufocanus would be more common on the LDF plots. We used our permanent plots supplemented with a new sample of plots, mainly of the rare LDF type, inside or just outside the long-term study area. Very few voles were trapped on both plot types, and no difference was found. However, a subsequent pilot study with trapping in a national park with large areas of pristine, unfragmented forest yielded more voles than in the managed, more fragmented, areas. Consequently, the initial field study data and some other recent data were also re-analysed from a local patch quality perspective. This alternative approach revealed the positive importance of large focal patches of forest >60 years old and their content of old-growth (pine) forest (>100 years). Interestingly, at the landscape level, the frequency distribution of patches of forest >60 years old, old-growth (>100 years), and especially of old-growth pine forest (>100 years), relative to the properties of plots with C. rufocanus, suggested that there are few forest patches left that are suitable for C. rufocanus. Our current results suggest that habitat fragmentation cannot be excluded as a contributing cause to the long-term decline of C. rufocanus in boreal Sweden.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Grey-sided vole; Habitat fragmentation hypothesis; Long-term decline; Managed forest landscape; Old-growth forest; Pristine forest landscape
Research Programs: Evolution and Ecology (EEP)
Bibliographic Reference: Population Ecology; 50(2):169-179 (April 2008)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:40
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2016 08:27
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/8545

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