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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/502

Title: Why lemmings have indoor plumbing in summer
Authors: Boonstra, Rudy
Krebs, Charles
Kenney, Alice
Issue Date: 1996
Publisher: National Research Council Canada
Citation: Can. J. Zool. 74:1947-1949 (1996)
Abstract: The faeces and urine of microtine rodents are visible in ultraviolet light, and diurnal raptors, such as European kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) and rough-legged buzzards (Buteo lagopus), have the ability to see in ultraviolet light. It has been reported that in Fennoscandia, these raptors use this ability to concentrate their hunting activity in spring on areas where microtines are abundant. We hypothesized that in arctic tundra areas in summer, intense avian predation pressure and short vegetation should select for microtine behaviour that would minimize their exposure to these raptors. We dug up 62 collared lemming (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus) burrows in the Canadian Arctic and all had underground latrines. Latrines are not hidden underground in winter, when lemmings live under the snow, build nests above ground, and defecate above ground, nor does this occur in microtine species living in temperate areas, where summer vegetation growth is greater. Thus, high predation risk may influence not only where prey forage but also where they defecate.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/502
Appears in Collections:Biology

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