Document Detail

Population cycles in northern small mammals.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  8527608     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
I. The regular multiannual oscillations of small mammals at northern latitudes have been a subject of intensive study from the beginning of this century. The existence of a subjective bias in the research due to different schools of study together with a long series of failures and seemingly contradictory results in experiments testing a multitude of hypotheses have brought confusion to the field of study. Much of this confusion has resulted from a failure to recognize sharply the problem studied, which in turn has masked the progress made during the years. Northern mammal cycles are not a single problem but a composition of many related problems. Every problem may have a single-factor explanation, but even with a single-factor explanation, one factor is not necessarily an answer to all of the related problems. 2. At present, we can state that the cyclicity is caused by a predator-prey interaction. Both the 8-11-year and the 3-5-year cycles may be special cases of a more general cycle, most likely caused by a herbivore-resident specialist predator interaction, where the period of the cycles is determined by size-related constraints affecting the increase rate of the populations. The factors determining the amplitude of the cycles probably vary regionally and/or temporally. The operation of generalist and nomadic predators is largely responsible for the regional and geographic synchrony in cycles, although climatic factors may also contribute to the geographic synchrony. The northern distribution of animal communities; both these factors affect the density of generalist predators, which act as a stabilizing factor in the system. The age-related survival pattern seems to be mainly caused by predation, and the cyclically fluctuating reproductive output and mean body mass may be caused by changes in prey behaviour in response to fluctuating predation risk. Thus, we can already give a plausible explanation for most problems related to northern mammal cycles. 3. In all problems discussed, predation seems to be involved, and in most problems, it seems to be the factor which explains the observed patterns. Thus, as a generalization, it can be said that predation seems to be the key factor in the explanation of the northern multiannual cycles of small mammals. 4. There seems to be a linkage between diversity and cyclicity, probably because the diversity of the community (the number of prey species available) may determine the diet choice of a predator, which in turn determines whether the predators have a stabilizing or a destabilizing impact on prey populations.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
K Norrdahl
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society     Volume:  70     ISSN:  1464-7931     ISO Abbreviation:  Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc     Publication Date:  1995 Nov 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1996-01-29     Completed Date:  1996-01-29     Revised Date:  2008-11-07    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0414576     Medline TA:  Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc     Country:  ENGLAND    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  621-37     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Biology, University of Turku, Finland.
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MeSH Terms
Mammals / growth & development,  physiology*
Population Dynamics
Predatory Behavior
Reproduction / physiology

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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