Synchrony in lemming and vole populations in the Canadian Arctic

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Population fluctuations may occur in synchrony among several rodent species at a given site, and they may occur in synchrony over large geographical areas. We summarize information on synchrony in lemmings and voles from the Canadian Arctic for the past 20 years. The most detailed available information is from the central Canadian Arctic, where snap-trap samples have been taken annually at several sites for periods of up to 15 years. Geographical synchrony in the same species among different sites was strong, especially for the central and eastern Canadian Arctic. Synchrony among different species at a given site was also generally high. When one species is at high density, densities of all species at that site tend to be high. These results do not easily fit the mobile-predator hypothesis proposed to explain regional synchrony, and are more consistent with the weather hypothesis, which we suggest both entrains synchrony among sites and enforces synchrony among species within a site. We tentatively support the weather hypothesis for geographical synchrony in lemmings, and recommend the establishment of a circumpolar program to monitor lemming cycles and predator movements that would advance our understanding of these large-scale patterns of cyclic synchrony.


  • C J Krebs
  • A J Kenney
  • S Gilbert
  • K Danell
  • A Angerbjorn
  • Sam Erlinge
  • R G Bromley
  • C Shank
  • S Carriere
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1323-1333
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch

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