Advertisement

European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 549–553 | Cite as

The impact of maternal experience on post-weaning survival in an endangered arctic fox population

  • Tomas MeijerEmail author
  • Karin Norén
  • Anders Angerbjörn
Original Paper

Abstract

Behavioural differences in parental care can influence offspring survival through variation in e.g. antipredator behaviour and ability to provide food. In a broad range of species, offspring survival has been found to be higher for experienced females compared to inexperienced first-time breeders. The increase in offspring survival for experienced females has mainly been explained by improved experience in providing food. In this paper, we have studied post-weaning juvenile survival in relation to maternal experience in an endangered population of arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) in Fennoscandia. For cubs raised by inexperienced and experienced females, the survival rate was 0.42 (CI 95% ± 0.31) and 0.87 (CI 95% ± 0.08), respectively. There was no difference in body condition between the cubs and no observations of starvation. We suggest that the difference in survival was due to lack of experience to one of the most common predators, the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). Golden eagles were mainly observed on dens with litters where the females were inexperienced first-time breeders. From a conservation perspective, it is therefore important to increase adult survival through actions to enlarge the proportion of experienced breeders.

Keywords

Alopex lagopus Conservation Aquila chrysaetos Parental experience Population dynamics Body index Juvenile survival 

Notes

Acknowledgement

We are grateful to Lars Liljemark and Lars Back at the County Board Administration in Jämtland for data collection and logistic help; Bodil Elmhagen for comments on the manuscript and Magne Friberg for statistical advice. This study was financed by EU-LIFE, WWF Sweden, Fjällräven AB, Swedish research council and the International Polar Year (IPY). We are grateful to the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat for logistical support.

References

  1. Angerbjörn A, Hersteinsson P, Tannerfeldt M (2004a) Consequences of resource predictability in the arctic fox—two life history stragegies. In: Macdonald DW, Sillero-Zubiri C (eds) Biology and conservation of wild canids. Oxford university press, Oxford, pp 163–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angerbjörn A, Hersteinsson P, Tannerfeldt M (2004b) Europe and north and central asia (Palearctic): Arctic fox, Alopex lagopus. Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs. In: Sillero-Zubiri C, Hoffman M, Macdonald DW (eds) Status survey and conservation action plan. IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland, pp 117–123Google Scholar
  3. Angerbjörn A, Henttonen H, Eide NE, Landa A, Norén K, Meijer T (2008) SEFALO+. Final report LIFE03 NAT/S/000073 Saving the Endangered Fennoscandian Alopex lagopus Google Scholar
  4. Clutton-Brock TH, Price OF, Albon SD, Jewell PA (1992) Early development and population fluctuations in Soay Sheep. J Anim Ecol 61:381–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cypher BL, Warrick GD, Otten MRM, O’Farrell TP, Berry WH, Harris CE, Kato TT, McCue PM, Scrivner JH, Zoellick BW (2000) Population dynamics of San Joaquin kit foxes at the naval petroleum reserves in California. Wildlife Monographs , 1–43Google Scholar
  6. Daunt F, Wanless S, Harris MP, Money L, Monaghan P (2007) Older and wiser: improvements in breeding success are linked to better foraging performance in European shags. Funct Ecol 21:561–567CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Durant SM (2000) Predator avoidance, breeding experience and reproductive success in endangered cheetahs, acinonyx jubatus. Anim Behav 60:121–130PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Frafjord K, Becker D, Angerbjörn A (1989) Interactions between arctic and red foxes in Scandinavia—predation and aggression. Arctic 42:354–356Google Scholar
  9. Garrott RA, Eberhardt LE (1982) Mortality of arctic fox pups in northern Alaska. J Mammal 63:173–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Griffin AS, Blumstein DT, Evans C (2000) Training captive-bred or translocated animals to avoid predators. Conserv Biol 14:1317–1326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Keith LB, Cary JR, Rongstad OJ, Brittingham MC (1984) Demography and ecology of a declining snowshoe hare population. Wild Monograph 90:1–43Google Scholar
  12. Kitchen AM, Gese EM, Schauster ER (1999) Resource partitioning between coyotes and swift foxes: space, time, and diet. Can J Zool 77:1645–1656CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kontiainen P, Pietiainen H, Huttunen K, Karell P, Kolunen H, Brommer JE (2009) Aggressive Ural owl mothers recruit more offspring. Behav Ecol 20:789–796CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Krebs C (1989) Ecological Methodology. Harper and Row Publishers Inc., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. McCune S (1995) The impact of paternity and early socialization on the development of cats behavior to people and novel objects. Appl Anim Behav Sci 45:109–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. McGrady MJ, Grant JR, Bainbridge IP, McLeod DRA (2002) A model of Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) ranging behavior. J Raptor Res 36:62–69Google Scholar
  17. Meijer T, Norén K, Hellström P, Dalén L, Angerbjörn A (2008) Estimating population parameters in a threatened arctic fox population using molecular tracking and traditional field methods. Anim Conserv 11:330–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Nyström V, Angerbjörn A, Dalén L (2006) Genetic consequences of a demographic bottleneck in the Scandinavian arctic fox. Oikos 114:84–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Pamperin NJ, Follmann EH, Petersen B (2006) Interspecific killing of an arctic fox by a red fox at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Arctic 59:361–364Google Scholar
  20. Ralls K, White PJ (1995) Predation on San-Joaquin Kit Foxes by Larger Canids. J Mammal 76:723–729CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rohner C, Krebs CJ (1996) Owl predation on snowshoe hares: consequences of antipredator behaviour. Oecologia 108:303–310Google Scholar
  22. Sydeman WJ, Huber HR, Emslie SD, Ribic CA, Nur N (1991) Age-specific weaning success of northern elephant seals in relation to previous breeding experience. Ecology 72:2204–2217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Tannerfeldt M, Angerbjörn A (1998) Fluctuating resources and the evolution of litter size in the arctic fox. Oikos 83:545–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Tannerfeldt M, Angerbjörn A, ArvidSon B (1994) The effect of summer feeding on juvenile arctic fox survival—a field experiment. Ecography 17:88–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Tannerfeldt M, Elmhagen B, Angerbjörn A (2002) Exclusion by interference competition? The relationship between red and arctic foxes. Oecologia 132:213–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Watts HE, Holekamp KE (2008) Interspecific competition influences reproduction in spotted hyenas. J Zool 276:402–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Wilsson E, Sundgren PE (1998) Behaviour test for eight-week old puppies—heritabilities of tested behaviour traits and its correspondence to later behaviour. Appl Anim Behav Sci 58:151–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tomas Meijer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Karin Norén
    • 1
  • Anders Angerbjörn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations