Population Ecology

, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 169–179

Can landscape properties predict occurrence of grey-sided voles?

  • Pernilla Christensen
  • Frauke Ecke
  • Per Sandström
  • Mats Nilsson
  • Birger Hörnfeldt
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10144-008-0077-5

Cite this article as:
Christensen, P., Ecke, F., Sandström, P. et al. Popul Ecol (2008) 50: 169. doi:10.1007/s10144-008-0077-5

Abstract

There has been a long-term decline in spring and fall numbers of Clethrionomys rufocanus in boreal Sweden in 1971–2005. Previous studies on permanent sampling plots in the centre of 2.5 × 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.

Keywords

Grey-sided vole Habitat fragmentation hypothesis Long-term decline Managed forest landscape Old-growth forest Pristine forest landscape 

Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pernilla Christensen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Frauke Ecke
    • 3
    • 4
  • Per Sandström
    • 2
  • Mats Nilsson
    • 2
  • Birger Hörnfeldt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Environmental ScienceUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  2. 2.Department of Forest Resource Management and GeomaticsSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUmeåSweden
  3. 3.International Institute for Applied Systems AnalysisLaxenburgAustria
  4. 4.Division of Applied Geology, Landscape Ecology GroupLuleå University of TechnologyLuleåSweden

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