A new geographical gradient in vole population dynamics

Emil Tkadlec, Nils Chr. Stenseth

Abstract

A new geographical gradient in the dynamics of small rodents is demonstrated by analysing 29 time series of density indices of the common vole (Microtus arvalis) from Poland, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. This gradient extends from more stable northerly populations in coastal Poland to more variable and cyclic populations in the southernmost parts of the Slovak Republic, and is hence a reversal of the Fennoscandian gradient. All studied variables (such as mean density, cycle amplitude, density variability and the coefficients in a second–order autoregressive model) exhibit consistent latitudinal variation. Possible underlying factors are discussed. In particular, we suggest that seasonality may be a key element in explaining the observed new gradient.

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