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Effect of cyclic and declining food supply on great grey owls in boreal Sweden
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Ecology and Environmental Science.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Ecology and Environmental Science.
2008 (English)In: Canadian Journal of Zoology, Vol. 86, 1426-1431 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this study of 35 years of data, we examine the short-term (cyclic) and long-term relationship between breeding success of great grey owls (Strix nebulosa Forster, 1772) and their food supply (bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus (Schreber, 1780)), grey-sided voles (Clethrionomys rufocanus (Sundevall, 1846)), and field voles (Microtus agrestis (L., 1761))) in northern Sweden. Annual number of owl nests showed a 3 year cyclicity, which as predicted, corresponded to the length of the vole cycle in the region. Mean annual brood size also fluctuated and was positively dependent on the vole supply during the same spring. In this region, there has also been a decline in vole numbers in recent decades, from high-amplitude cycles in the 1970s to subsequent low-amplitude cycles. Correspondingly, and as predicted, mean annual brood size of the owls also declined, although only during the third years of the vole cycle when vole supply in spring and brood size of the owls is at its highest level in high-amplitude cycles. We predict that in the long run the vole decline, associated with increasingly milder winters, and the reduction of the brood size of the owls, especially in years of high owl breeding success, will have serious implications for the population of great grey owls in Scandinavia.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 86, 1426-1431 p.
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-11568DOI: doi:10.1139/Z08-131OAI: diva2:151239
Available from: 2009-01-15 Created: 2009-01-15 Last updated: 2011-01-10Bibliographically approved

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Hörnfeldt, Birger
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