Advertisement

Polar Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 447–457 | Cite as

Diet, nesting density, and breeding success of rough-legged buzzards (Buteo lagopus) on the Nenetsky Ridge, Arctic Russia

  • Ivan Pokrovsky
  • Dorothée Ehrich
  • Rolf A. Ims
  • Olga Kulikova
  • Nicolas Lecomte
  • Nigel G. Yoccoz
Original Paper

Abstract

The rough-legged buzzard, a circumpolar avian predator, is usually defined as rodent specialist in the tundra but as a generalist in the boreal zone, leaving open the question of where the shift in feeding strategy occurs. Here, we investigated the diet and breeding biology of buzzards as well as abundance of their possible prey during 5 years in the low-Arctic shrub tundra on the Nenetsky Ridge, Russia. We employed three complementary methods to assess the diet of this Arctic predator—pellet dissection, identification of prey remains on nests, and stable isotope analysis—to overcome their respective limitations. We documented fluctuations in abundances of the likely prey, namely rodents, ptarmigans, and hares. Nesting density of buzzards changed substantially over the years, but did not track the abundance cycle of the rodents. The number of buzzard fledglings was relatively low (1.08 ± 0.3) and did not change according to the density of rodents. In the year when rodents were at their lowest abundance, diet analyses of nestlings documented a shift from rodents to alternative prey, with a decrease in the proportion of tundra voles and an increase in proportion of hares, ptarmigans, and ducks. Here, we argue that buzzards may adopt different feeding strategies along the gradient from generalists to specialists. While the rough-legged buzzard is usually considered a small rodent specialist, our study shows that it can shift to alternative prey where or when rodents are scarce and when alternative prey are sufficiently abundant to provide subsistence for breeding.

Keywords

Rough-legged buzzards Buteo lagopus Diet shift Stable isotopes Predator–prey interactions Arctic 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We acknowledge the Research Council of Norway for the International Polar Year funding of the project Arctic Predators (www.arctic-predators.uit.no). We thank the University of Tromsø, the Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Science, and Nenetsky Nature Reserve for additional support. We are also grateful to all the people that helped during the fieldwork, especially Eva Fuglei, Anna Rodnikova, Aleksander Gotilov, Gunnhild Skogstad, and Lilyia Doronina. We are also grateful to Vladimir Kalyakin, who helped us with pellets dissecting in 2010 and to Meghan Marriott for English proofreading.

Supplementary material

300_2013_1441_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (99 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 99 kb)

References

  1. Andersson M (1976) Population ecology of long-tailed skua (Stercorarius longicaudus Vieill). J Anim Ecol 45:537–559. doi: 10.2307/3890 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersson M (1981) Reproductive tactics of the long-tailed skua Stercorarius longicaudus. Oikos 37:287–294. doi: 10.2307/3544119 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andersson M, Erlinge S (1977) Influence of predation on rodent populations. Oikos 29:591–597. doi: 10.2307/3543597 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Batzli GO, Lesieutre C (1991) The influence of high quality food on habitat use by arctic microtine rodents. Oikos 60:299–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bechard MJ, Swem TR (2002) Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus), The Birds of North America Online (Poole A, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/641 doi: 10.2173/bna.641
  6. Dawson RD, Mossop DH, Boukall B (2011) Prey use and selection in relation to reproduction by peregrine falcons breeding along the Yukon River, Canada. J Raptor Res 45:27–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. DeNiro MJ, Epstein S (1977) Mechanism of carbon isotope fractionation associated with lipid-synthesis. Science 197:261–263. doi: 10.1126/science.327543 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ehrich D, Tarroux A, Stien J, Lecomte N, Killengreen S, Berteaux D, Yoccoz NG (2011) Stable isotope analysis: modelling lipid normalization for muscle and eggs from arctic mammals and birds. Methods Ecol Evol 2:66–76. doi: 10.1111/j.2041-210X.2010.00047.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ehrich D, Henden JA, Ims RA, Doronina LO, Killengren ST, Lecomte N, Pokrovsky IG, Skogstad G, Sokolov AA, Sokolov VA, Yoccoz NG (2012) The importance of willow thickets for ptarmigan and hares in shrub tundra: the more the better? Oecologia 168:141–151. doi: 10.1007/s00442-011-2059-0 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Elmhagen B, Tannerfeldt M, Verucci P, Angerbjörn A (2000) The arctic fox (Alopex lagopus): an opportunistic specialist. J Zool 251:139–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ferguson-Lees J, Christie DA (2001) Raptors of the world. Christopher Helm, LondonGoogle Scholar
  12. Formozov AN (1934) Birds of prey and rodents. Zoologicheskii zhurnal 13:664–700 (in Russian)Google Scholar
  13. Galushin VM (1974) Synchronous fluctuations in populations of some raptors and their prey. Ibis 116:127–134. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.1974.tb00232.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gardner MJ, Altman DG (1986) Confidence-intervals rather than p-values—estimation rather than hypothesis-testing. Brit Med J 292:746–750CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Glasser JW (1982) A theory of trophic strategies—the evolution of facultative specialists. Am Nat 119:250–262. doi: 10.1086/283906 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Glazov PM (2011) Breeding conditions report for southern part of Kolguev Island, Russia, 2011. ARCTIC BIRDS: an international breeding conditions survey (Online database). http://www.arcticbirds.net/info11/ru96ru49711.html. Accessed 31 October 2012 (in Russian)
  17. Hagen Y (1969) Norwegian studies on the reproduction of birds of prey and owls in relation to micro-rodent population fluctuations. Fauna 22:73–126 (in Norwegian)Google Scholar
  18. Hanski I, Hansson L, Henttonen H (1991) Specialist predators, generalist predators, and the microtine rodent cycle. J Anim Ecol 60:353–367. doi: 10.2307/5465 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Henttonen H, Kaikusalo A, Tast J, Viitala J (1977) Interspecific competition between small rodents in subarctic and boreal ecosystems. Oikos 29:581–590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hobson KA, Clark RG (1992) Assessing avian diets using stable isotopes II: factors influencing diet-tissue fractionation. Condor 94:189–197. doi: 10.2307/1368808 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ims RA, Fuglei E (2005) Trophic interaction cycles in tundra ecosystems and the impact of climate change. Bioscience 55:311–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ims RA, Yoccoz NG, Killengreen ST (2011) Determinants of lemming outbreaks. PNAS 108:1970–1974PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Inger R, Bearhop S (2008) Applications of stable isotope analyses to avian ecology. Ibis 150:447–461. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2008.00839.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ives AR, Cardinale BJ, Snyder WE (2005) A synthesis of subdisciplines: predator-prey interactions, and biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Ecol Lett 8:102–116. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2004.00698.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jaksic FM (1989) Opportunism vs selectivity among carnivorous predators that eat mammalian prey—a statistical test of hypotheses. Oikos 56:427–430. doi: 10.2307/3565630 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kalyakin VN (1989) Raptors in ecosystems of the far north. In: Chernov YI (ed) Birds in communities of the tundra zone. Nauka Press, Moscow, pp 51–112 (in Russian)Google Scholar
  27. Kondratyev AV, Anisimov Y, Buzun VA, Glazov PM, Kruckenberg H, Mooij J, Zainagutdinova EM, Zockler C (2006) Breeding conditions report for Kolguev Island, Peschanka River, Russia, 2006. ARCTIC BIRDS: an international breeding conditions survey (Online database). http://www.arcticbirds.net/info06/ru68ru3506.html. Accessed 31 October 2012
  28. Kondratyev AV, Diershke J, Feige N, Glazov PM, Kontiokorpi J, Kruckenberg H, Zainagutdinova EM (2007) Breeding conditions report for Peschanka River upper reaches, Kolguev Island, Russia, 2007. ARCTIC BIRDS: an international breeding conditions survey (Online database). http://www.arcticbirds.net/info07/ru68ru41807.html. Accessed 31 October 2012
  29. Kondratyev AV, Anisimov YA, Dolgova AV, Glazov PM, Kazansky FV, Ketzer C, Ochinashko DV, Yatsuk EA, Zainagutdinova EM (2008) Breeding conditions report for Peschanka River upper reaches, Kolguev Island, Russia, 2008. ARCTIC BIRDS: an international breeding conditions survey (Online database). http://www.arcticbirds.net/info08/ru68ru41808.html. Accessed 31 October 2012
  30. Kondratyev AV, Hillig F, Kruckenberg H, Dmitriev AV, Pokrovskaya O, Rosenfeld SB (2011) Breeding conditions report for Peschanka River upper reaches, Kolguev Island, Russia, 2011. ARCTIC BIRDS: an international breeding conditions survey (Online database). http://www.arcticbirds.net/info11/ru68ru41811.html. Accessed 31 October 2012 (in Russian)
  31. Korpimäki E (1985) Prey choice strategies of the kestrel Falco tinnunculus in relation to available small mammals and other Finnish birds of prey. Ann Zool Fenn 22:91–104Google Scholar
  32. Korpimäki E (1988) Effects of age on breeding performance of tengmalm’s owls Aegolius funereus in western Finland. Ornis scandinavica 19:21–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Korpimäki E (1990) Low repeatability of laying date and clutch size in tengmalm’s owl: an adaptation to fluctuating food conditions. Ornis Scandinavica 21:282–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Korpimäki E, Norrdahl K (1989) Predation of tengmalms owls—numerical responses, functional-responses and dampening impact on population fluctuations of microtines. Oikos 54:154–164. doi: 10.2307/3565261 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Korpimäki E, Tolonen P, Valkama J (1994) Functional-responses and load-size effect in central place foragers—data from the kestrel and some general-comments. Oikos 69:504–510. doi: 10.2307/3545862 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lecomte N, Ahlstrom O, Ehrich D, Fuglei E, Ims RA, Yoccoz NG (2011) Intrapopulation variability shaping isotope discrimination and turnover: experimental evidence in arctic foxes. PLoS ONE 6:e21357. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021357 PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lewis SB, Falter AR, Titus K (2004) A comparison of 3 methods for assessing raptor diet during the breeding season. Wildl Soc B 32:373–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Malo AF, Lozano J, Huertas DL, Virgós E (2004) A change of diet from rodents to rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Is the wildcat (Felis silvestris) a specialist predator? J Zool 263:401–407. doi: 10.1017/s0952836904005448 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Marti CD, Bechard M, Jacksic FM (2007) Food habits. In: Bird DM (ed) Raptor research and management techniques. Hancock House Publishers, Blaine, pp 129–152Google Scholar
  40. Mechnikova SA (2009) Raptors of southern Yamal: breeding ecology and population dynamic. Dissertation, Moscow State Pedagigical University, Moscow (in Russian)Google Scholar
  41. Mindell DP, Albuquerque JLB, White CM (1987) Breeding population fluctuations in some raptors. Oecologia 72:382–388. doi: 10.1007/Bf00377568 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Myllymäki A, Paasikallio A, Pankakoski E, Kanervo V (1971) Removal experiments on small quadrates as a mean of rapid assessment of the abundance of small mammals. Ann Zool Fenn 8:177–185Google Scholar
  43. Newton I (1979) Population ecology of raptors. T & AD Poyser, LondonGoogle Scholar
  44. Nowak RM, Walker EP (1991) Walker’s mammals of the world, 5th edn. Johns Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  45. Oksanen L, Oksanen T (1992) Long-term microtine dynamics in north fennoscandian tundra: the vole cycle and the lemming chaos. Ecography 15:226–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Osmolovskaya VI (1948) Ecology of birds of prey in the Yamal peninsula. Mater Inst Geogr Acad Sci Sov Union 41:5–77 (in Russian)Google Scholar
  47. Pasanen S, Sulkava S (1971) On the nutritional biology of the rough-legged buzzard, Buteo lagopus lagopus Brunn., in Finnish Lapland. Aquilo Serie Zoologica 12:53–63Google Scholar
  48. Potapov ER (1997) What determines the population density and reproductive success of rough-legged buzzards, Buteo lagopus, in the Siberian tundra? Oikos 78:362–376. doi: 10.2307/3546304 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Redpath SM, Thirgood SJ (1999) Numerical and functional responses in generalist predators: hen harriers and peregrines on Scottish grouse moors. J Anim Ecol 68:879–892. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2656.1999.00340.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Redpath SM, Clarke R, Madders M, Thirgood SJ (2001) Assessing raptor diet: comparing pellets, prey remains, and observational data at hen harrier nests. Condor 103:184–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Reif V, Tornberg R, Jungell S, Korpimaki E (2001) Diet variation of common buzzards in Finland supports the alternative prey hypothesis. Ecography 24:267–274. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0587.2001.240304.x Google Scholar
  52. Reif V, Jungell S, Korpimäki E, Tornberg R, Mykra S (2004) Numerical response of common buzzards and predation rate of main and alternative prey under fluctuating food conditions. Ann Zool Fenn 41:599–607Google Scholar
  53. Schenker N, Gentleman JF (2001) On judging the significance of differences by examining the overlap between confidence intervals. Am Stat 55:182–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Simmons RE, Avery DM, Avery G (1991) Biases in diets determined from pellets and remains: correction factors for a mammal and bird-eating raptor. J Raptor Res 25:63–67Google Scholar
  55. Snow D, Perrins CM, Gillmor R (1998) The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  56. Sokolov AA (2002) Functional links between rough-legged buzzards (Buteo lagopus) and small rodents in southern shrub tundra of Yamal. Dissertation, Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Ekaterinburg, Russia (in Russian)Google Scholar
  57. Sonerud GA (1992) Functional-responses of birds of prey—biases due to the load-size effect in central place foragers. Oikos 63:223–232. doi: 10.2307/3545382 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sundell J, Huitu O, Henttonen H, Kaikusalo A, Korpimaki E, Pietiainen H, Saurola P, Hanski I (2004) Large-scale spatial dynamics of vole populations in Finland revealed by the breeding success of vole-eating avian predators. J Anim Ecol 73:167–178. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2004.00795.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Tast J, Kaikusalo A, Lagerström M (2010a) Breeding biology of rough-legged buzzards Buteo lagopus at Kilpisjärvi, NW Finnish Lapland, in relation to rodent cycles. Kilpisjärvi Notes 22:1–9Google Scholar
  60. Tast J, Kaikusalo A, Lagerström M (2010b) Diet composition of breeding rough-legged buzzards Buteo lagopus at Kilpisjärvi, NW Finnish Lapland. Kilpisjärvi Notes 22:10–18Google Scholar
  61. Tornberg R, Reif V (2007) Assessing the diet of birds of prey: a comparison of prey items found in nests and images. Ornis Fennica 84:21–31Google Scholar
  62. van Eerden MR (2000) Pechora delta: structure and dynamics of the pechora delta ecosystems (1995–1999). Institute for Inland Water Management and Waste Water Treatemen, LelystadGoogle Scholar
  63. Walker DA, Raynolds MK, Daniels FJA, Einarsson E, Elvebakk A, Gould WA, Katenin AE, Kholod SS, Markon CJ, Melnikov ES, Moskalenko NG, Talbot SS, Yurtsev BA (2005) The circumpolar Arctic vegetation map. J Veg Sci 16:267–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Wiklund CG, Angerbjörn A, Isakson E, Kjellén N, Tannerfeldt M (1999) Lemming predators on the Siberian tundra. Ambio 28:281–286Google Scholar
  65. Yoccoz NG (1991) Use, overuse, and misuse of significance tests in evolutionary biology and ecology. Bull Ecol Soc Am 72:106–111Google Scholar

Copyright information

© European Atomic Energy Community (EU-Euratom) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ivan Pokrovsky
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dorothée Ehrich
    • 2
  • Rolf A. Ims
    • 2
  • Olga Kulikova
    • 3
  • Nicolas Lecomte
    • 2
    • 4
  • Nigel G. Yoccoz
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Migration and Immuno-ecologyMax Planck Institute for OrnithologyRadolfzellGermany
  2. 2.Department of Arctic and Marine BiologyUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway
  3. 3.Faculty of GeographyLomonosov Moscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  4. 4.Canada Research Chair in Polar and Boreal Ecology, Department of BiologyUniversité de MonctonMonctonCanada

Personalised recommendations