, Volume 181, Issue 3, pp 831–840 | Cite as

Processes driving short-term temporal dynamics of small mammal distribution in human-disturbed environments

  • Julie Martineau
  • David Pothier
  • Daniel FortinEmail author
Population ecology – original research


As the impact of anthropogenic activities intensifies worldwide, an increasing proportion of landscape is converted to early successional stages every year. To understand and anticipate the global effects of the human footprint on wildlife, assessing short-term changes in animal populations in response to disturbance events is becoming increasingly important. We used isodar habitat selection theory to reveal the consequences of timber harvesting on the ecological processes that control the distribution dynamics of a small mammal, the red-backed vole (Myodes gapperi). The abundance of voles was estimated in pairs of cut and uncut forest stands, prior to logging and up to 2 years afterwards. A week after logging, voles did not display any preference between cut and uncut stands, and a non-significant isodar indicated that their distribution was not driven by density-dependent habitat selection. One month after harvesting, however, juvenile abundance increased in cut stands, whereas the highest proportions of reproductive females were observed in uncut stands. This distribution pattern appears to result from interference competition, with juveniles moving into cuts where there was weaker competition with adults. In fact, the emergence of source-sink dynamics between uncut and cut stands, driven by interference competition, could explain why the abundance of red-backed voles became lower in cut (the sink) than uncut (the source) stands 1–2 years after logging. Our study demonstrates that the influences of density-dependent habitat selection and interference competition in shaping animal distribution can vary frequently, and for several months, following anthropogenic disturbance.


Isodar Red-backed vole Interference competition Anthropogenic disturbances Habitat selection 



We thank Angélique Dupuch, Hélène Le Borgne, Orphé Bichet, Chrystel Losier, Caroline Gagné, Antoine Daignault, Michaël Leblanc, Caroline Bergeron, Félix Gagnon, Antoine Boudreau LeBlanc and Philippe Goulet for their help at different stages of the study. We also thank Douglas W. Morris and William F. J. Parsons for their comments on this paper. This research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada—Laval University Industrial Research Chair in Silviculture and Wildlife.

Author contribution statement

J. M., D. P., and D. F. conceived the experiment. J. M. performed the experiment and analyzed the data. J. M. wrote the manuscript. D. P. and D. F. provided extensive editorial comments.

Supplementary material

442_2016_3613_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie Martineau
    • 1
    • 2
  • David Pothier
    • 1
    • 3
  • Daniel Fortin
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Chaire de Recherche Industrielle CRSNGUniversité Laval en Sylviculture et FauneQuébecCanada
  2. 2.Département de biologieUniversité LavalQuébecCanada
  3. 3.Département des sciences du bois et de la forêtUniversité LavalQuébecCanada

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