Climate change and cyclic predator–prey population dynamics in the high Arctic

Année de publication



Global Change Biology 15 2634 2652 11


The high Arctic has the world's simplest terrestrial vertebrate predator–prey community, with the collared lemming being the single main prey of four predators, the snowy owl, the Arctic fox, the long‐tailed skua, and the stoat. Using a 20‐year‐long time series of population densities for the five species and a dynamic model that has been previously parameterized for northeast Greenland, we analyzed the population and community level consequences of the ongoing and predicted climate change. Species' responses to climate change are complex, because in addition to the direct effects of climate change, which vary depending on species' life histories, species are also affected indirectly due to, e.g., predator–prey interactions. The lemming–predator community exemplifies these complications, yet a robust conclusion emerges from our modeling: in practically all likely scenarios of how climate change may influence the demography of the species, climate change increases the length of the lemming population cycle and decreases the maximum population densities. The latter change in particular is detrimental to the populations of the predators, which are adapted to make use of the years of the greatest prey abundance. Therefore, climate change will indirectly reduce the predators' reproductive success and population densities, and may ultimately lead to local extinction of some of the predator species. Based on these results, we conclude that the recent anomalous observations about lack of cyclic lemming dynamics in eastern Greenland may well be the first signs of a severe impact of climate change on the lemming–predator communities in Greenland and elsewhere in the high Arctic.

Type de publication
  • journal
Type de document
  • article
Classification - Inist-CNRS
  • 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
  • 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
  • 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
Classification - Scopus
  • 1 - Physical Sciences
  • 2 - Environmental Science
  • 3 - General Environmental Science
  • 3 - Ecology
  • 3 - Environmental Chemistry
  • 3 - Global and Planetary Change
Classification - Science Metrix
  • 1 - natural sciences
  • 2 - biology
  • 3 - ecology
Classification - Clarivate Analytics (Subject Category)
  • 1 - science
  • 2 - environmental sciences
  • 2 - ecology
  • 2 - biodiversity conservation
Termes extraits

lemming; predator; climate change; stoat; zackenberg; karupelv; gilg; global change biology; skua; scenario; parameter values; ecology; predation; blackwell publishing; lemming dynamics; numerical responses; northeast greenland; cyclic; functional response; meltofte; acia; hectare; dhigh; lemming density; callaghan; lemming population; hanski; cycle length; sittler; dynamics; numerical response; tundra; daneborg; ecosystem; stochastic lemming mortality; forchhammer; trophic; empirical data; predator species; peak densities; cyclic dynamics; greenland; schmidt; stochasticity; peak density; growth rate; time series; arctic; stochastic; functional responses; baseline model; environmental conditions; ecological research; eastern greenland; ecology letters; east greenland; baseline; indirect effects; avian predators; lemming densities; lemming populations; dicrostonyx groenlandicus; karupelv valley; other hand; lemming cycles; moderate changes; dansk ornithologisk forenings tidsskrift; vertebrate; snow conditions; local extinctions; alpine research; mammalian predators; cambridge university press; climate warming; environmental changes; climate change scenarios; snow quality; arctic climate impact assessment; scoresby sund; arctic foxes; linear regression; population densities; population dynamics; summer season; parameter; berg; simulation; global; lemming peak years; lemming growth rate; northern hemisphere; stochastic mortality; alternate food; random variation; mortality rate; maximum predation rate; cycle amplitude; hochstetter forland; southern part; study area; noncyclic dynamics; young skuas; unpublished results; summer season scenario; study sites; small changes; jameson land; lemming predators; population cycles; longtailed skua; stercorarius longicaudus; mustela erminea; reproductive success; animal ecology; likely scenarios; direct effects; vertebrate community; ostkuste gronlands; main text

Entité nommée
Entité nommée - Emplacement géographique
  • Finland
  • Canada
  • Greenland
  • France
  • Iceland
Entité nommée - Organisme
  • University of Helsinki
  • University of Freiburg
  • Danish Polar Center
  • Greenland Home Rule
  • Arctic Ecology Research Group
  • Blackwell Publishing Ltd
  • ACIA
  • Greenland, Mustela
  • East Greenland National Park
  • Germany Abstract The
Entité nommée - Personne
Thomas Berg; Jannick Hansen; Toke Hoye; Morris Jesup; Hans Meltofte; Jameson Land; Brigitte Sabard; B. Sittler; Morten; Niels Schmidt
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