Population Ecology

, Volume 57, Issue 4, pp 569–580 | Cite as

Evidence for different drivers behind long-term decline and depression of density in cyclic voles

  • Magnus MagnussonEmail author
  • Birger Hörnfeldt
  • Frauke Ecke
Original article


Decline and long-term depression of mean densities of the grey-sided vole (Myodes rufocanus) and the field vole (Microtus agrestis) have occurred in managed forest landscapes of Sweden since the 1970s. Generally poor over-winter survival during a period with mild winters suggested a common climatic driver, but other explanations exist. Here we explore the response of the grey-sided vole, preferring forested habitats, and the field vole, preferring open habitats, to clear-cutting of old forest in Sweden. The cumulated impact from long-term clear-cutting explained local disappearances of the grey-sided vole. Maintained connectivity of old forest to stone fields was important for local population survival, since no such populations disappeared. For the grey-sided vole, it is probable that climate is not the dominating driver due to different timing of the decline in our study area. Instead, habitat loss is concluded as being a potential cause of the decline in mean density and depression of grey-sided vole densities. The long-lasting depression of field vole densities, despite favourable landscape changes, suggests action of another strong driver. A recent field vole recovery, essentially back to pre-decline densities and distribution, coincided with favourable winter/snow conditions, suggesting a climatic driver in this case.


Climate change Habitat loss Land-use change Microtus agrestis Myodes rufocanus Population dynamics 



This study was mainly funded by the Swedish Natural Science Research Council, Stiftelsen Seth M. Kempes Minne, Längmanska kulturfonden, Olle och Signhild Engkvists Stiftelser, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (via the National Environmental Monitoring Programme), Oscar and Lilli Lamms minne (for the PhD-position of MM), the research council FORMAS (project number 221-2012-1568) and Helge Ax:son Johnsons stiftelse. We thank Fredrik Lindgren and Katie Andrle for field assistance in the stone field study and Tim Hipkiss for kindly improving the English.

Supplementary material

10144_2015_512_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (601 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 600 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Magnus Magnusson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Birger Hörnfeldt
    • 1
  • Frauke Ecke
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental StudiesSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUmeåSweden
  2. 2.Department of Aquatic Sciences and AssessmentSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden

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