, Volume 65, Issue 11, pp 2079-2089

From interference to predation: type and effects of direct interspecific interactions of small mammals

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Indirect exploitative competition, direct interference and predation are important interactions affecting species coexistence. These interaction types may overlap and vary with the season and life-history state of individuals. We studied effects of competition and potential nest predation by common shrews (Sorex araneus) on lactating bank voles (Myodes glareolus) in two seasons. The species coexist and may interact aggressively. Additionally, shrews can prey on nestling voles. We studied bank vole mothers’ spatial and temporal adaptations to shrew presence during summer and autumn. Further, we focused on fitness costs, e.g. decreased offspring survival, which bank voles may experience in the presence of shrews. In summer, interference with shrews decreased the voles’ home ranges and they spent more time outside the nest, but there were no effects on offspring survival. In autumn, we found decreased offspring survival in enclosures with shrews, potentially due to nest predation by shrews or by increased competition between species. Our results indicate a shift between interaction types depending on seasonal constraints. In summer, voles and shrews seem to interact mainly by interference, whereas resource competition and/or nest predation by shrews gain importance in autumn. Different food availability, changing environmental conditions and the energetic constraints in voles and shrews later in the year may be the reasons for the varying combinations of interaction types and their increasing effects on the inclusive fitness of bank voles. Our study provides evidence for the need of studies combining life history with behavioural measurements and seasonal constraints.

Communicated by E. Korpimäki