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The long-term decline of the grey-sided vole (Clethrionomys rufocanus) in boreal Sweden: importance of focal forest patch and matrix
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

There has been a long-term decline in number of cyclic vole populations in boreal Sweden since the 1970s. Several hypotheses have been suggested to explain this decline. Commonly for C. glareolus, C. rufocanus and M. agrestis, the decline has followed upon an increased frequency and severeness of winter declines and has shown up as a drop in spring densities. The spring decline is most pronounced for C. rufocanus. In contrast to other voles, C. rufocanus also show a decline in fall densities, suggesting some additional disturbance in this species. Habitat fragmentation has been suggested as such an additional disturbance and in this thesis the effect of habitat fragmentation on C. rufocanus is explored.

At first the sampling method was evaluated i.e. whether the decline could be due to destructive sampling when the method in use in the long-term monitoring is snap-trapping. This resulted in a rejection of the destructive sampling hypothesis as a possible cause behind the decline in C. rufocanus. Habitat preference revealed that three habitats at the local scale (trap station) were high quality habitats for C. rufocanus: forest of moist and wet/hydric dwarf-shrub type, in addition to forest/swamp complexes rich in dwarf-shrubs. The occurrence of C. rufocanus at the landscape scale was positively correlated with the amount of boulder fields and a low degree of fragmentation of old-growth pine forests. There was considerable local variation in the decline in vole density among the 58 1-ha sampling plots, with respect to both density and timing of the decline, which suggested that habitat destruction outside sampling plots might be involved. Overall, clear-cuts had a negative influence on vole densities at both the local and landscape scale. A multiple regression analysis suggested that having both a high quality habitat at the local scale and a high proximity among xeric-mesic mires and a low connectivity among clear-cuts at the landscape scale were important for the occurrence of C. rufocanus.

Initial analysis at the landscape scale were based on landscape data collected from 2.5 x 2.5 km areas centred on the individual vole sampling plots. Further investigations, however, on the patch level suggest that focal forest patch size and quality was of major importance in determining occurrence and persistence of C. rufocanus. Although not tested formally in these studies, the habitat fragmentation hypothesis has so far received support. Currently C. rufocanus seems to be affected negatively by too low patch sizes of suitable habitats in the surrounding landscape suggesting that the amount of suitable habitats could already be below the fragmentation threshold. However, this has to be evaluated further. Work is in progress to establish time-series over local landscape changes, and to evaluate if such changes have been associated with local declines of C. rufocanus and whether habitat loss, true habitat fragmentation or both have been influential.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Ekologi, miljö och geovetenskap , 2006. , 35 p.
Keyword [en]
: Destructive sampling, high quality habitat, focal habitat, landscape, habitat fragmentation, threshold, clear-cut, patch size and quality, long-term time-series
National Category
Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-876ISBN: 91-7264-150-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-876DiVA: diva2:144846
Public defence
2006-10-20, Stora hörsalen, KBC-huset, Linnaeus väg 6, Umeå, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2006-09-27 Created: 2006-09-27 Last updated: 2011-03-14Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Long-term decline of vole populations in northern Sweden: a test of the destructive sampling hypothesis
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Long-term decline of vole populations in northern Sweden: a test of the destructive sampling hypothesis
2003 (English)In: Journal of Mammalogy, ISSN 1545-1542, Vol. 84, no 4, 1292-1299 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-5350 (URN)
Available from: 2006-09-27 Created: 2006-09-27 Last updated: 2016-02-29Bibliographically approved
2. Habitat preference of Clethrionomys rufocanus in boreal Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Habitat preference of Clethrionomys rufocanus in boreal Sweden
2006 (English)In: Landscape Ecology, ISSN 0921-2973, E-ISSN 1572-9761, Vol. 21, no 2, 185-194 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A long-term decline of vole populations in boreal Sweden, especially of the grey-sided vole (Clethrionomysrufocanus Sund.), has been revealed by snap-trapping in 1971–2004. We identified important habitats forthe grey-sided vole by mapping the distribution of cumulated number of reproductive females in 1971–1978, prior to the major decline in the 1980s. Mean abundance of C. rufocanus was higher in the western(inland) than eastern (coastland) part of the study area. As the inland appeared to represent the most, as faras we know, pristine, abundant part of the population, we based identification of high quality habitats oninland data only. Four habitats were more important than others and yielded nearly 86% of the reproductivefemales in spring: (1) forests of dry, (2) moist and (3) wet/hydric dwarf-shrub type, in addition to (4)forest/swamp complexes rich in dwarf-shrubs. The latter three habitats were used more frequently thanexpected from their occurrence in the landscape. Still, the variation in density of reproductive femaleswithin patches of the same habitat was frequently high. This suggested that habitat composition in thesurrounding landscape, perhaps may have affected local vole density at the patch scale. Clear-cut samplingplots appeared to be low-frequently used by reproductive females, but also by males and immatures. Inconclusion, our study indicated the importance of also studying habitat at a larger scale than that of thepatch to get a deeper understanding on how habitat influences local and regional densities and populationdynamics of C. rufocanus.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
The Hague: SPB Academic Publ., 2006
Keyword
habitat patches, habitat quality, immatures, landscape design, local habitat, reproductive females, reproductive males
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-5351 (URN)10.1007/s10980-005-1052-6 (DOI)
Available from: 2006-09-27 Created: 2006-09-27 Last updated: 2016-02-29Bibliographically approved
3. Identification of landscape elements related to declines of grey-sided vole populations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Identification of landscape elements related to declines of grey-sided vole populations
2006 (English)In: Landscape Ecology, ISSN 0921-2973, Vol. 21, no 4, 485-497 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-5352 (URN)
Available from: 2006-09-27 Created: 2006-09-27 Last updated: 2016-02-29Bibliographically approved
4. Long-term decline and local extinction of Clethrionomys rufocanus in boreal Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Long-term decline and local extinction of Clethrionomys rufocanus in boreal Sweden
2006 (English)In: Landscape Ecology, ISSN 0921-2973, E-ISSN 1572-9761, Vol. 21, 1135-1150 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Over the past three decades in boreal Sweden, there has been a long-term decline of cyclic sympatric voles,leading to local extinctions of the most affected species, the grey-sided vole (Clethrionomys rufocanus). Wemonitored this decline by snap-trapping on 58 permanent plots spread over 100 km2 in spring and fall from fall1971–2003. The reason for the decline is largely unknown, although a common major factor is likely to beinvolved in the decline of C. rufocanus and of the coexisting voles.However, here we deal with the reasonabilityof one complementary hypothesis, the habitat fragmentation hypothesis, which assumes that part of thedecline of C. rufocanus is caused by habitat (forest) destruction. There was considerable local variation in thedecline among the 58 1-ha sampling plots, with respect to both density and timing of the decline; however, alldeclines ended up with local extinction almost without exception. Local declines were not associated withhabitat destruction by clear-cutting within sampling-plots, as declines started about equally often before asafter clear-cutting, which suggested that habitat destruction outside sampling plots could be involved. In amultiple regression analysis, local habitat preference (LHP; expressed as a ratio of observed to expectednumber of voles trapped per habitat) together with two habitat variables in the surrounding (2.5 · 2.5 km2)landscape matrix explained56%of the variation among local cumulated densities of C. rufocanus and hence oflocal time-series.LHPwas positively correlated and explained31%of the variation, while connectivity amongclear-cuts was negatively correlated and proximity among xeric-mesic mires was positively correlated andexplained additional 16% and 9%, respectively. Even if the overall decline cannot be connected to local clearcuttingon sampling-plots, clear-cutting and hence habitat fragmentation/destruction in the surroundinglandscapes potentially influenced grey-sided vole numbers negatively.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
The Hague: SPB Academic Publ., 2006
Keyword
Clear-cutting, Cycles, Density indices, Grey-sided vole, Habitat fragmentation, Landscape matrix, Local habitat preference, Multiple regression, Population dynamics, Time-series
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-7426 (URN)10.1007/s10980-006-7249-5 (DOI)
Available from: 2008-01-09 Created: 2008-01-09 Last updated: 2011-03-14Bibliographically approved
5. Dependence of Clethrionomys rufocanus on focal forest patch size and quality
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Dependence of Clethrionomys rufocanus on focal forest patch size and quality
Show others...
(English)Manuscript (Other academic)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-5354 (URN)
Available from: 2006-09-27 Created: 2006-09-27 Last updated: 2016-02-29Bibliographically approved

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