Aug 1, 2014

Numerical response of predators to large variations of grassland vole abundance, long-term community change and prey switches

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Patrick DeelenLude Franke

Abstract

Voles can reach high densities with multi-annual population fluctuations of large amplitude, and they are at the base of large and rich communities of predators in temperate and arctic food webs. This places them at the heart of management conflicts where crop protection and health concerns are often raised against conservation issues. Here, a 20-year survey describes the effects of large variations of grassland vole populations on the densities and the daily theoretical food intakes (TFI) of vole predators based on road-side counts. Our results show how the predator community responds to prey variations of large amplitude and how it reorganized with the increase of a dominant predator, here the red fox, which likely impacted negatively hare, European wildcat and domestic cat populations. They also indicate which subset of the predator species can be expected to have a key-role in vole population control in the critical phase of low density of grassland voles. Our study provides empirical support for more timely and better focused actions in wildlife management and vole population control, and shows why it implies evidence-based and constructive dialogue about management targets and options between all stakeholders of such soci...Continue Reading

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