Advertisement

Oecologia

, Volume 167, Issue 4, pp 967–980 | Cite as

Habitat selection, reproduction and predation of wintering lemmings in the Arctic

  • David Duchesne
  • Gilles Gauthier
  • Dominique Berteaux
Population ecology - Original Paper

Abstract

Snow cover has dramatic effects on the structure and functioning of Arctic ecosystems in winter. In the tundra, the subnivean space is the primary habitat of wintering small mammals and may be critical for their survival and reproduction. We have investigated the effects of snow cover and habitat features on the distributions of collared lemming (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus) and brown lemming (Lemmus trimucronatus) winter nests, as well as on their probabilities of reproduction and predation by stoats (Mustela erminea) and arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus). We sampled 193 lemming winter nests and measured habitat features at all of these nests and at random sites at two spatial scales. We also monitored overwinter ground temperature at a subsample of nest and random sites. Our results demonstrate that nests were primarily located in areas with high micro-topography heterogeneity, steep slopes, deep snow cover providing thermal protection (reduced daily temperature fluctuations) and a high abundance of mosses. The probability of reproduction increased in collared lemming nests at low elevation and in brown lemming nests with high availability of some graminoid species. The probability of predation by stoats was density dependent and was higher in nests used by collared lemmings. Snow cover did not affect the probability of predation of lemming nests by stoats, but deep snow cover limited predation attempts by arctic foxes. We conclude that snow cover plays a key role in the spatial structure of wintering lemming populations and potentially in their population dynamics in the Arctic.

Keywords

Dicrostonyx groenlandicus Lemmus trimucronatus Small mammals Snow cover Tundra 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank all of the people who participated in the laboratory and field work, particularly J.-B. Lambert, M. Marchand-Roy, É. Valiquette and M.C. Cadieux. We are grateful to S.D. Coté, M. Doiron, D. Fortin, O. Gilg, C. Juillet, L. McKinnon, D. Morris, D. Reid, B. Sittler and M-A. Valiquette for their comments on the manuscript. Funding support was provided by grants from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to G. Gauthier, the Fonds Québécois pour la Nature et les Technologies, the Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence ArcticNet, International Polar Year program of the Government of Canada, the Northern Ecosystem Initiative (Environment Canada), the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Logistic support was generously provided by the Polar Continental Shelf Program (PCSP). We are indebted to the Hunters and Trappers Association of Pond Inlet and to Park Canada for allowing us to work on Bylot Island. This is PCSP contribution No. 01711.

Supplementary material

442_2011_2045_MOESM1_ESM.doc (116 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 116 kb)

References

  1. Anderson DR, Burnham KP, Thompson WL (2000) Null hypothesis testing: problems, prevalence, and an alternative. J Wildl Manage 64:912–923CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anselin L (2003) GeoDa 0.9 user’s guide. University of Illinois Press, Urbana-ChampaignGoogle Scholar
  3. Audet B, Gauthier G, Lévesque E (2007) Feeding ecology of greater snow goose goslings in mesic tundra on Bylot Island, Nunavut, Canada. Condor 109:361–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barkley SA, Batzli GO, Collier BD (1980) Nutritional ecology of microtine rodents: simulation-model of mineral-nutrition for brown lemmings. Oikos 34:103–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Batzli GO, Cole FR (1979) Nutritional ecology of microtine rodents: digestibility of forage. J Mammal 60:740–750CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Batzli GO, Jung HJG (1980) Nutritional ecology of microtine rodents: resource utilization near Atkasook, Alaska. Arct Alp Res 12:483–499CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Batzli GO, Pitelka FA (1983) Nutritional ecology of microtine rodents: food-habits of lemmings near Barrow, Alaska. J Mammal 64:648–655CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Batzli GO, Pitelka FA, Cameron GN (1983) Habitat use by lemmings near Barrow, Alaska. Holarct Ecol 6:255–262Google Scholar
  9. Boyce MS (2006) Scale for resource selection functions. Divers Distrib 12:269–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brommer JE, Pietiäinen H, Ahola K, Karrel P, Karstinen T, Kolunen H (2010) The return of the vole cycle in southern Finland refutes the generality of the loss of cycles through ‘climate forcing’. Glob Change Biol 16:577–586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Buckland ST, Anderson DR, Burnham KP, Laake JL (1993) Distance sampling: estimating abundance of biological populations. Chapman & Hall Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  12. Buckland ST, Anderson DR, Burnham KP, Laake JL, Borchers DL, Thomas L (2004) Advanced distance sampling. Oxford University Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  13. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) Model selection and inference: a practical information–theoretic approach, 2nd edn. Springer Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Carl G, Kuhn I (2007) Analyzing spatial autocorrelation in species distributions using Gaussian and logit models. Ecol Model 207:159–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chappell MA (1980) Thermal energetics and thermoregulatory costs of small arctic mammals. J Mammal 61:278–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Coulson T, Malo A (2008) Population biology: case of the absent lemmings. Nature 456:43–44PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Deems JS, Fassnacht SR, Elder KJ (2008) Interannual consistency in fractal snow depth patterns at two Colorado mountain sites. J Hydrometeor 9:977–988CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dormann CF, McPherson JM, Araujo MB, Bivand R, Bolliger J, Carl G, Davies RG, Hirzel A, Jetz W, Kissling WD, Kuhn I, Ohlemuller R, Peres-Neto PR, Reineking B, Schroder B, Schurr FM, Wilson R (2007) Methods to account for spatial autocorrelation in the analysis of species distributional data: a review. Ecography 30:609–628CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Duchesne D, Gauthier G, Berteaux D (2011) Evaluation of a method to determine the breeding activity of lemmings in their winter nests. J Mammal 92:511–516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Elton CS (1924) Periodic fluctuations in the number of animals: their causes and effects. Br J Exp Biol 2:119–163Google Scholar
  21. Fitzgerald BM (1977) Weasel predation on a cyclic population of montane vole (Microtus montanus) in California. J Anim Ecol 46:367–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fuller WA, Martell AM, Smith RFC, Speller SW (1975) High-arctic lemmings (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus) 2. Demography. Can J Zool 53:867–878CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gauthier G, Bêty J, Giroux J-F, Rochefort L (2004) Trophic interactions in a high arctic snow goose colony. Integr Comp Biol 44:119–129PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gilg O, Sittler B, Sabard B, Hurstel A, Sane R, Delattre P, Hanski I (2006) Functional and numerical responses of four lemming predators in high arctic Greenland. Oikos 113:193–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gilg O, Sittler B, Hanski I (2009) Climate change and cyclic predator-prey population dynamics in the high Arctic. Glob Change Biol 15:2634–2652CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gruyer N, Gauthier G, Berteaux D (2008) Cyclic dynamics of sympatric lemming populations on Bylot Island, Nunavut, Canada. Can J Zool 86:910–917CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gruyer N, Gauthier G, Berteaux D (2010) Demography of two lemming species on Bylot Island, Nunavut, Canada. Polar Biol 33:725–736CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hansen TF, Stenseth NC, Henttonen H (1999) Multiannual vole cycles and population regulation during long winters: an analysis of seasonal density dependence. Am Nat 154:129–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hanski I, Hansson L, Henttonen H (1991) Specialist predators, generalist predators, and the microtine rodent cycle. J Anim Ecol 60:353–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hansson L, Henttonen H (1985) Gradients in density variations of small rodents—the importance of latitude and snow cover. Oecologia 67:394–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hansson L, Henttonen H (1988) Rodent dynamics as community processes. Trends Ecol Evol 3:195–200PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Holling CS (1959) Some characteristic of simple types of predation and parasitism. Can Entomol 91:385–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hornfeldt B (2004) Long-term decline in numbers of cyclic voles in boreal Sweden: analysis and presentation of hypotheses. Oikos 107:376–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hornfeldt B, Hipkiss T, Eklund U (2005) Fading out of vole and predator cycles? Proc R Soc B 272:2045–2049PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Huitu O, Jokinen I, Korpimaki E, Koskela E, Mappes T (2007) Phase dependence in winter physiological condition of cyclic voles. Oikos 116:565–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ims RA, Fuglei E (2005) Trophic interaction cycles in tundra ecosystems and the impact of climate change. Bioscience 55:311–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ims RA, Henden JA, Killengreen ST (2008) Collapsing population cycles. Trends Ecol Evol 23:79–86PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Johnson DH (1980) The comparison of usage and availability measurements for evaluating resource preference. Ecology 61:65–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kausrud KL, Mysterud A, Steen H, Vik JO, Ostbye E, Cazelles B, Framstad E, Eikeset AM, Mysterud I, Solhoy T, Stenseth NC (2008) Linking climate change to lemming cycles. Nature 456:93–97PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kline RB (1998) Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. Guilford Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  41. Korslund L, Steen H (2006) Small rodent winter survival: snow conditions limit access to food resources. J Anim Ecol 75:156–166PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Krebs CJ (1964) The lemming cycle at Baker Lake, Northwest Territories, during 1959–62. Technical Paper No 15. Arctic Institute of North America, Calgary Google Scholar
  43. Krebs CJ, Myers JH (1974) Population cycles in small mammals. Adv Ecol Res 8:267–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Krebs CJ, Boonstra RD, Kenney AJ (1995) Population dynamics of the collared lemming and the tundra vole at Pearce-Point, Northwest-Territories, Canada. Oecologia 103:481–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lindstrom ER, Hornfeldt B (1994) Vole cycles, snow depth and fox predation. Oikos 70:156–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. MacLean SF, Fitzgerald BM, Pitelka FA (1974) Population cycles in arctic lemmings: winter reproduction and predation by weasels. Arct Alp Res 6:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Manly BFJ, McDonald LL, Thomas DL, McDonald TL, Erickson WP (2002) Resource selection by animals: statistical design and analysis for field studies, 2nd edn. Kluwer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  48. Manseau M, Gauthier G (1993) Interactions between greater snow geese and their rearing habitat. Ecology 74:2045–2055CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Marchand PJ (1996) Life in the cold. New England University Press, HanoverGoogle Scholar
  50. McArdle JJ (1980) Causal-modeling applied to psychonomic systems simulation. Behav Res Meth Instrum 12:193–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Millar JS (2001) On reproduction in lemmings. Ecoscience 8:145–150Google Scholar
  52. Morris DW, Davidson DL, Krebs CJ (2000) Measuring the ghost of competition: insights from density-dependent habitat selection on the co-existence and dynamics of lemmings. Evol Ecol Res 2:41–67Google Scholar
  53. Negus NC, Berger PJ (1998) Reproductive strategies of Dicrostonyx groenlandicus and Lemmus sibiricus in high-arctic tundra. Can J Zool 76:391–400Google Scholar
  54. Pan W (2001) Akaike’s information criterion in generalized estimating equations. Biometrics 57:120–125PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pitelka FA, Batzli GO (2007) Population cycles of lemmings near Barrow, Alaska: a historical review. Acta Theriol 52:323–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Predavec M, Krebs CJ (2000) Microhabitat utilisation, home ranges, and movement patterns of the collared lemming (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus) in the central Canadian Arctic. Can J Zool 78:1885–1890Google Scholar
  57. Prins H (1981) Why are mosses eaten in cold environment only? Oikos 38:374–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. R Development Core Team (2008) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R foundation for statistical computing, Vienna. Available at http://www.R-project.org
  59. Rammul U, Oksanen T, Oksanen L, Lehtela J, Virtanen R, Olofsson J, Strengbom J, Rammul I, Ericson L (2007) Vole-vegetation interactions in an experimental, enemy free taiga floor system. Oikos 116:1501–1513Google Scholar
  60. Reid DG, Krebs CJ (1996) Limitations to collared lemming population growth in winter. Can J Zool 74:1284–1291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Rodgers AR, Lewis MC (1986) Diet selection in arctic lemmings: demography, home range, and habitat use. Can J Zool 64:2717–2727CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sarnelle O, Wilson AE (2008) Type III functional response in Daphnia. Ecology 89:1723–1732PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Scott PA (1993) Relationship between the onset of winter and collared lemming abundance at Churchill, Manitoba, Canada—1932–90. Arctic 46:293–296Google Scholar
  64. Sittler B (1995) Response of stoats (Mustela erminea) to a fluctuating lemming (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus) population in north east Greenland: preliminary results from a long-term study. Ann Zool Fenn 32:79–92Google Scholar
  65. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1995) Biometry: the principles and practice of statistics in biological research, 3rd edn. WH Freeman, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  66. Solonen T (2006) Overwinter population change of small mammals in southern Finland. Ann Zool Fenn 43:295–302Google Scholar
  67. Stenseth NC (1999) Population cycles in voles and lemmings: density dependence and phase dependence in a stochastic world. Oikos 87:427–461CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Duchesne
    • 1
  • Gilles Gauthier
    • 1
  • Dominique Berteaux
    • 2
  1. 1.Département de Biologie, Centre d’Études NordiquesUniversité LavalQuebecCanada
  2. 2.Canada Research Chair in Conservation of Northern Ecosystems, Centre d’Études NordiquesUniversité du Québec à RimouskiRimouskiCanada

Personalised recommendations