Browsing by Subject "mesopredator release"

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  • Zavattoni, Giorgio (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Populations of forest grouse – capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), black grouse (Lyurus tetrix) and hazel grouse (Tetrastes bonasia) - have been declining through all of Europe. Habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation are recognized to be the most important ultimate causes behind this trend. In Fennoscandia, there is a general consensus that forestry practices have a primary role, even though the mechanisms are still not fully understood. Nest predation is generally thought to be an important proximate cause of the declines, but how nest predation relates to habitat changes remains poorly understood. I combined long-term data provided by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) from inventory studies, both for grouses and predators, with an artificial nest experiment. I investigated a) how predation rate varies with forest age and landscape structure; b) what is the possible role of non-native mesopredator species as predators; c) how nest predation rate relates to larger scale reproductive success. In spring 2021, I placed 141 nests with two hen eggs each, in the regions of Kainuu and North Karelia for 14 days with camera traps. The nests were equally divided between mature forests (>80 years), young forests (<40 years) and edges of mature forests (in a mature forest 5m from a clearcut or a field). I found that the overall predation rate was low (~13 %) and similar in the three sites, but predation time was faster in mature forests, suggesting that when these are scarce, they can act as an ecological trap by increasing nest detectability. However, nest predation decreased with the increasing of mature forests in the landscape around the nest, supporting the hypothesis that on a larger scale forestry may increase generalist predator densities. Areas with higher predator densities suffered higher nest losses. The main predators were pine martens, badgers and magpies, followed by bears and ravens. No nests were predated by raccoon dogs or American minks. There was no correlation between areas with higher nest predation and areas where grouse had lower reproductive success which may result from other factors, e.g., chick predation. My results add to the diverse outcomes of several studies of grouse nest predation in Europe, which together indicate large variation in nest predation, no consistency in predatory species, and weak effects of landscape composition on nest predation.
  • Candolin, Ulrika; Bertell, Elina; Kallio, Jarkko (2018)
    1. Alien species are altering ecosystems around the globe. To predict and manage their impacts, the underlying mechanisms need to be understood. This is challenging in ecosystems undergoing multiple disturbances as unexpected interactions can alter the impact of individual disturbances. Such interactions are likely to be common in disturbed ecosystems, but have so far received little attention. 2. We investigated whether interactions between an invading shrimp Palaemon elegans and another human-induced disturbance, the population growth of a native mesopredator, the threespine stickleback, influences a third human-induced disturbance, the increase in biomass of filamentous algae. Increases in both the native mesopredator population and algal biomass have been promoted by eutrophication and a trophic cascade triggered by declining predatory fish stocks. 3. We used mesocosm and field enclosure experiments, combined with analyses of long-term trends in the abundance of the invader and the native mesopredator, to dissect the influence of the two species on algal biomass when alone and when co-occurring. 4. The impact of the invader on algal biomass depended on the native mesopredator; shrimp on their own had no effect on algal growth, but mitigated algae accumulation when competing with the stickleback for resources. Competition caused the shrimp to shift its diet from grazers to algae, and its habitat choice from open to vegetated habitats. The native mesopredator, in contrast, increased algal biomass irrespective of the presence of the invader, by preying on grazers and inducing a trophic cascade. 5. Our results show that the presence of a native mesopredator causes an invader to alter its behaviour and thereby its ecological impact. This demonstrates that interactions between invaders and other anthropogenic disturbances can alter the ecological impact of invaders, and, notably, that the impact of invaders can be positive and stabilize disturbed ecosystems. These results stress the importance of considering interactions among disturbances when investigating the ecological impact of alien species.
  • Eriksson, Britas Klemens; Yanos, Casey; Bourlat, Sarah J.; Donadi, Serena; Fontaine, Michael C.; Hansen, Joakim P.; Jakubaviciute, Egle; Kiragosyan, Karine; Maan, Martine E.; Merilä, Juha; Austin, Åsa N.; Olsson, Jens; Reiss, Katrin; Sundblad, Göran; Bergström, Ulf; Eklöf, Johan S. (2021)
    Declines of large predatory fish due to overexploitation are restructuring food webs across the globe. It is now becoming evident that restoring these altered food webs requires addressing not only ecological processes, but evolutionary ones as well, because human-induced rapid evolution may in turn affect ecological dynamics. We studied the potential for niche differentiation between different plate armor phenotypes in a rapidly expanding population of a small prey fish, the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). In the central Baltic Sea, three-spined stickleback abundance has increased dramatically during the past decades. The increase in this typical mesopredator has restructured near-shore food webs, increased filamentous algal blooms, and threatens coastal biodiversity. Time-series data covering 22 years show that the increase coincides with a decline in the number of juvenile perch (Perca fluviatilis), the most abundant predator of stickleback along the coast. We investigated the distribution of different stickleback plate armor phenotypes depending on latitude, environmental conditions, predator and prey abundances, nutrients, and benthic production; and described the stomach content of the stickleback phenotypes using metabarcoding. We found two distinct lateral armor plate phenotypes of stickleback, incompletely and completely plated. The proportion of incompletely plated individuals increased with increasing benthic production and decreasing abundances of adult perch. Metabarcoding showed that the stomach content of the completely plated individuals more often contained invertebrate herbivores (amphipods) than the incompletely plated ones. Since armor plates are defense structures favored by natural selection in the presence of fish predators, the phenotype distribution suggests that a novel low-predation regime favors stickleback with less armor. Our results suggest that morphological differentiation of the three-spined stickleback has the potential to affect food web dynamics and influence the persistence and resilience of the stickleback take-over in the Baltic Sea.