Younger bank voles are more vulnerable to avian predation

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Abstract:

The importance of predation on prey populations is mainly determined by the number of eaten prey. However, the total impact of predation might also be determined by the selection of certain prey individuals, e.g., different sexes or age categories. Here we tested selective predation by an avian predator, the pygmy owl (Glaucidium passerinum (L., 1758)), on bank voles (Myodes (Clethrionomys) glareolus (Schreber, 1780)). We compared the sex, age, and mass of hoarded prey with the animals snap-trapped from the field. There were no differences in the sex ratio between hoarded bank voles and those available in the field. However, hoarded voles were significantly younger than ones in the field sample. There was no statistically significant difference in mass between animals from larders and from the field. We suggest that the greater vulnerability of younger animals to predation might be due to their higher activity, or alternatively, they might be forced to forage in less safe habitats.

L’importance de la prédation pour les populations de proies est surtout fonction du nombre de proies consommées. Cependant, l’impact global de la prédation peut aussi être déterminé par la sélection de certaines proies individuelles, par exemple de catégories différentes de sexe ou d’âge. Nous vérifions ici la prédation sélective chez un oiseau prédateur, la chevêchette d’Europe (Glaucidium passerinum (L., 1758)), sur les campagnols roussâtres (Myodes (Clethrionomys) glareolus (Schreber, 1780)). Nous avons comparé le sexe, l’âge et la masse chez les proies accumulées dans les nichoirs et chez les animaux capturés au piège à souris en nature. Il n’y a pas de différence entre les proportions des sexes chez les campagnols roussâtres accumulés et ceux qui sont disponibles en nature. Cependant, les campagnols roussâtres accumulés sont significativement plus jeunes que ceux de l’échantillon de terrain. Il n’y a aucune différence statistiquement significative entre les masses des animaux dans les garde-manger et en nature. Nous croyons que la plus grande vulnérabilité des animaux plus jeunes à la prédation peut s’expliquer par leur activité plus élevée; il se peut aussi qu’ils soient obligés de chercher leur nourriture dans des habitats moins sûrs.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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