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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/347

Title: Experimental manipulation of predation and food supply of arctic ground squirrels in the boreal forest
Authors: Byrom, Andrea E.
Karels, Tim J.
Krebs, Charles J.
Boonstra, Rudy
Issue Date: 2000
Publisher: NRC Canada
Citation: Can. J. Zool. 78: 1309–1319 (2000)
Abstract: We examined whether arctic ground squirrel (Spermophilus parryii plesius) populations in northern boreal forest in the Yukon Territory, Canada, were limited by food, predators, or a combination of both, during the decline and low phases of a snowshoe hare cycle. From 1990 to 1995, populations were monitored in large-scale (1 km2) experimental manipulations. Squirrels were studied on eight 9-ha grids: four unmanipulated control grids, two foodsupplemented grids, a predator-exclosure grid, and a predator-exclosure + food-supplemented grid. Population density was measured on all grids by livetrapping and active-season survival was measured using radiotelemetry. Population densities were lowest in 1992 and 1993 (2 years after the snowshoe hare population decline). Rates of population change were negative from 1991 to 1993, when predation pressure was most intense after the snowshoe hare decline, and positive from 1993 to 1995, when hares and predators were at low densities. Predation accounted for 125 of 130 mortalities (96%) of radio-collared squirrels. Adult survival was significantly lower in 1992 and 1993 than in 1994 and 1995, and was a strong predictor of annual rates of population change in arctic ground squirrels. Treatments were ranked as follows in their effect on adult survival: predator exclosure + food-supplemented > food-supplemented > predator exclosure > controls. Juvenile survival was lowest in 1992, and food addition and predator removal separately increased juvenile survival. On average, predator exclusion increased population densities twofold, food supplementation increased densities fourfold, and food supplementation and predator removal together increased densities 10-fold. We conclude that food and predation interact to limit arctic ground squirrel populations in the boreal forest during the decline and low phases of the snowshoe hare cycle. The snowshoe hare cycle may indirectly create a lagged secondary fluctuation in arctic ground squirrel populations through shared cyclic predators.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/347
Appears in Collections:Biology

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