Document Detail

Prolonging the arctic pulse: long-term exploitation of cached eggs by arctic foxes when lemmings are scarce.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  17714265     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
1. Many ecosystems are characterized by pulses of dramatically higher than normal levels of foods (pulsed resources) to which animals often respond by caching foods for future use. However, the extent to which animals use cached foods and how this varies in relation to fluctuations in other foods is poorly understood in most animals. 2. Arctic foxes Alopex lagopus (L.) cache thousands of eggs annually at large goose colonies where eggs are often superabundant during the nesting period by geese. We estimated the contribution of cached eggs to arctic fox diets in spring and autumn, when geese were not present in the study area, by comparing stable isotope ratios (delta(13)C and delta(15)N) of fox tissues with those of their foods using a multisource mixing model in Program IsoSource. 3. The contribution of cached eggs to arctic fox diets was inversely related to collared lemming Dicrostonyx groenlandicus (Traill) abundance; the contribution of cached eggs to overall fox diets increased from < 28% in years when collared lemmings were abundant to 30-74% in years when collared lemmings were scarce. 4. Further, arctic foxes used cached eggs well into the following spring (almost 1 year after eggs were acquired) - a pattern that differs from that of carnivores generally storing foods for only a few days before consumption. 5. This study showed that long-term use of eggs that were cached when geese were superabundant at the colony in summer varied with fluctuations in collared lemming abundance (a key component in arctic fox diets throughout most of their range) and suggests that cached eggs functioned as a buffer when collared lemmings were scarce.
Gustaf Samelius; Ray T Alisauskas; Keith A Hobson; Serge Larivière
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Journal of animal ecology     Volume:  76     ISSN:  0021-8790     ISO Abbreviation:  J Anim Ecol     Publication Date:  2007 Sep 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2007-08-23     Completed Date:  2007-11-02     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0376574     Medline TA:  J Anim Ecol     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  873-80     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, 112 Science Place, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5E2, Canada.
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MeSH Terms
Arctic Regions
Arvicolinae / growth & development*
Feeding Behavior*
Food Supply*
Foxes / physiology*
Population Density
Population Dynamics
Predatory Behavior*

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

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