Publications by authors named "Reidar Andersen"

9 Publications

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Selecting habitat to survive: the impact of road density on survival in a large carnivore.

PLoS One 2013 10;8(7):e65493. Epub 2013 Jul 10.

Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States of America.

Habitat selection studies generally assume that animals select habitat and food resources at multiple scales to maximise their fitness. However, animals sometimes prefer habitats of apparently low quality, especially when considering the costs associated with spatially heterogeneous human disturbance. We used spatial variation in human disturbance, and its consequences on lynx survival, a direct fitness component, to test the Hierarchical Habitat Selection hypothesis from a population of Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx in southern Norway. Data from 46 lynx monitored with telemetry indicated that a high proportion of forest strongly reduced the risk of mortality from legal hunting at the home range scale, while increasing road density strongly increased such risk at the finer scale within the home range. We found hierarchical effects of the impact of human disturbance, with a higher road density at a large scale reinforcing its negative impact at a fine scale. Conversely, we demonstrated that lynx shifted their habitat selection to avoid areas with the highest road densities within their home ranges, thus supporting a compensatory mechanism at fine scale enabling lynx to mitigate the impact of large-scale disturbance. Human impact, positively associated with high road accessibility, was thus a stronger driver of lynx space use at a finer scale, with home range characteristics nevertheless constraining habitat selection. Our study demonstrates the truly hierarchical nature of habitat selection, which aims at maximising fitness by selecting against limiting factors at multiple spatial scales, and indicates that scale-specific heterogeneity of the environment is driving individual spatial behaviour, by means of trade-offs across spatial scales.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0065493PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3707854PMC
March 2014

Reconstructing the history of a fragmented and heavily exploited red deer population using ancient and contemporary DNA.

BMC Evol Biol 2012 Sep 26;12:191. Epub 2012 Sep 26.

Section of Natural History, Museum of Natural History and Archaeology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, N-7491, Trondheim, Norway.

Background: Red deer (Cervus elaphus) have been an important human resource for millennia, experiencing intensive human influence through habitat alterations, hunting and translocation of animals. In this study we investigate a time series of ancient and contemporary DNA from Norwegian red deer spanning about 7,000 years. Our main aim was to investigate how increasing agricultural land use, hunting pressure and possibly human mediated translocation of animals have affected the genetic diversity on a long-term scale.

Results: We obtained mtDNA (D-loop) sequences from 73 ancient specimens. These show higher genetic diversity in ancient compared to extant samples, with the highest diversity preceding the onset of agricultural intensification in the Early Iron Age. Using standard diversity indices, Bayesian skyline plot and approximate Bayesian computation, we detected a population reduction which was more prolonged than, but not as severe as, historic documents indicate. There are signs of substantial changes in haplotype frequencies primarily due to loss of haplotypes through genetic drift. There is no indication of human mediated translocations into the Norwegian population. All the Norwegian sequences show a western European origin, from which the Norwegian lineage diverged approximately 15,000 years ago.

Conclusions: Our results provide direct insight into the effects of increasing habitat fragmentation and human hunting pressure on genetic diversity and structure of red deer populations. They also shed light on the northward post-glacial colonisation process of red deer in Europe and suggest increased precision in inferring past demographic events when including both ancient and contemporary DNA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2148-12-191DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3514237PMC
September 2012

Climate, season, and social status modulate the functional response of an efficient stalking predator: the Eurasian lynx.

J Anim Ecol 2009 Jul 31;78(4):741-51. Epub 2009 Mar 31.

Faculty of Forestry and Wildlife Management, Hedmark University College, Evenstad, NO-2480 Koppang, Norway.

1. Predation plays a major role in shaping the structure and dynamics of ecological communities, and the functional response of a predator is of crucial importance to the dynamics of any predator-prey system by linking the trophic levels. For large mammals, there is a dearth of field studies documenting functional responses, and observations at low prey density are particularly scarce. Furthermore, there is a lack of understanding about how variables such as season, social status and climate modulate the functional response curves. 2. We analysed kill rate data collected over a 10-year period based on radio-marked lynx (Lynx lynx) mainly preying on roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) along a steep prey density gradient in south-eastern Norway. 3. The asymptotic kill rate was reached at a very low prey density for both solitary individuals and family groups (i.e. females with their dependent kittens), indicative of an efficient predator. This highlights the importance of understanding the interplay between predator and prey at low prey densities. 4. A purely prey-dependent functional response was a poor descriptor of the data, as the curve was strongly modulated by season and differences between lynx of different social status. In addition, there was a clear effect of abiotic climatic factors (indexed by the North Atlantic Oscillation) on observed kill rates in the more snow-rich portion of our study area. 5. Our analysis suggests that simple functional response curves might be poor descriptors of predator consumption rates in complex natural system, and that auxiliary factors are likely to induce complexity into any predator-prey systems that would not be captured by simple deterministic approaches.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2656.2009.01547.xDOI Listing
July 2009

A slow life in hell or a fast life in heaven: demographic analyses of contrasting roe deer populations.

J Anim Ecol 2009 May;78(3):585-94

Hedmark University College, Evenstad, Koppang 2480, Norway.

1. Environmental conditions shape population growth through their impact on demographic parameters. While knowledge has accumulated concerning the effects of population density and climatic conditions, a topical question now concerns how predation and harvest influence demographic parameters and population growth (lambda). 2. We performed a comparative demographic analysis based on projection matrix models for female roe deer. Population-specific matrices were parameterized based on longitudinal data from five intensively monitored populations in Norway and France, spanning a large variability in environmental characteristics such as densities of large predators, hunter harvest and seasonality. 3. As expected for a large iteroparous vertebrate, temporal variation was invariably higher in recruitment than in adult survival, and the elasticity of adult survival was consistently higher than that of recruitment. However, the relative difference in elasticity of lambda to recruitment and adult survival varied strongly across populations, and was closely correlated with adult survival. 4. Different traits accounted for most of the variance in lambda in different ecological settings. Adult survival generally contributed more in populations with low mean adult survival and low mean growth rate during the study period. Hunters and predators (Eurasian lynx and red foxes) occurred in two of our study populations and contributed substantially to the variance in lambda, accounting for a total of 35% and 70% in the two populations respectively. 5. Across populations, we did not find any evidence that roe deer increased their reproductive output when faced with harsh conditions, resulting in some populations having negative growth rates. 6. Generation time, a measure of the speed of the life-history cycle, increased from less than 4 years in the most productive population ('roe deer heaven') to more than 6 years in declining populations facing predation from lynx, red fox and hunters ('roe deer hell'), and was tightly and inversely correlated with lambda. Such a deceleration of the life cycle in declining populations might be a general feature in large herbivores. 7. Our results shows that the plethora of environmental conditions faced by populations of large herbivores also induce high intraspecific variation in their ranking along the 'fast-slow' continuum of life-history tactics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2656.2009.01523.xDOI Listing
May 2009

Habitat differentiation within the large-carnivore community of Norway's multiple-use landscapes.

J Appl Ecol 2008 Oct;45(5):1382-1391

The re-establishment of large carnivores in Norway has led to increased conflicts and the adoption of regional zoning for these predators. When planning the future distribution of large carnivores, it is important to consider details of their potential habitat tolerances and strength of inter-specific differentiation. We studied differentiation in habitat and kill sites within the large-carnivore community of south-eastern Norway.We compared habitat selection of the brown bear Ursus arctos L., Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx L., wolf Canis lupus L. and wolverine Gulo gulo L., based on radio-tracking data. Differences in kill site locations were explored using locations of documented predator-killed sheep Ovis aries L. We modelled each species' selection for, and differentiation in, habitat and kill sites on a landscape scale using resource selection functions and multinomial logistic regression. Based on projected probability of occurrence maps, we estimated continuous patches of habitat within the study area.Although bears, lynx, wolves and wolverines had overlapping distributions, we found a clear differentiation for all four species in both habitat and kill sites. The presence of bears, wolves and lynx was generally associated with rugged, forested areas at lower elevations, whereas wolverines selected rugged terrain at higher elevations. Some degree of sympatry was possible in over 40% of the study area, although only 1.5% could hold all four large carnivores together.Synthesis and applications. A geographically differentiated management policy has been adopted in Norway, aimed at conserving viable populations of large carnivores while minimizing the potential for conflicts. Sympatry of all four carnivores will be most successful if regional zones are established of adequate size spanning an elevational gradient. High prey densities, low carnivore densities, low dietary overlap and scavenging opportunities have most probably led to reduced competitive exclusion. Although regional sympatry enhances the conservation of an intact guild of large carnivores, it may well increase conflict levels and resistance to carnivore conservation locally.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2008.01527.xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2658717PMC
October 2008

Diet shift of a facultative scavenger, the wolverine, following recolonization of wolves.

J Anim Ecol 2008 Nov 23;77(6):1183-90. Epub 2008 Jul 23.

Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Trondheim, Norway.

1. Wolves Canis lupus L. recolonized the boreal forests in the southern part of the Scandinavian peninsula during the late 1990s, but so far there has been little attention to its effect on ecosystem functioning. Wolf predation increases the availability of carcasses of large prey, especially moose Alces alces L., which may lead in turn to a diet switch in facultative scavengers such as the wolverine Gulo gulo L. 2. Using 459 wolverine scats collected during winter-spring 2001-04 for DNA identity and dietary contents, we compared diet inside and outside wolf territories while controlling for potential confounding factors, such as prey density. We tested the hypothesis that wolverine diet shifted towards moose in the presence of wolves, while taking into account possible sexual segregation between the sexes. Occurrence of reindeer, moose and small prey was modelled against explanatory covariates using logistic mixed-effects models. Furthermore, we compared diet composition and breadth among habitats and sexes. 3. Occurrence of reindeer, moose and small prey in the diet varied with prey availability and habitat. As expected, diet contained more moose and less reindeer and small prey in the presence of wolves. Their diet in tundra consisted of 40% reindeer Rangifer tarandus L., 39% moose and 9% rodents. In forest with wolf, their diet shifted to 76% moose, 18% reindeer and 5% rodents; compared to 42% moose, 32% reindeer and 15% rodents in forest without wolf. This diet switch could not be explained by higher moose density in wolf territories. Female diet consisted of more small prey than for males, but there was a tendency for females to use the highly available moose carrion opportunistically and to hunt less on small prey within wolf territories. 4. Our study highlights how wolves increase scavenging opportunities for wolverines, and how sexual differences in diet may also apply to large scavengers. Due to their more restricted home range, female wolverines are forced to rely more on hunting small prey. The relatively high occurrence of wolf kills, however, forms an important food source to wolverines in this area. The recolonization of wolves may therefore have contributed to the consequent recolonization of wolverines into the same area.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2656.2008.01445.xDOI Listing
November 2008

Environmental phenology and geographical gradients in moose body mass.

Oecologia 2006 Nov 31;150(2):213-24. Epub 2006 Aug 31.

Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7491 Trondheim, Norway.

Intraspecific body mass in ungulates has often been shown to increase with latitude. The biological basis for such latitudinal gradients is, however, poorly known. Here we examined whether satellite-derived indices of environmental phenology, based on the normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI), as well as variables derived from meteorological stations, altitude, and population density, can explain latitudinal gradients and regional variation in body mass of Norwegian moose. The best model gave a considerably better fit than latitude alone, and included all explanatory environmental variables. Accordingly, heavy moose were found in areas with short and intense summers that were followed by long, cold winters, at low altitude relative to the tree-limit, and with low population density relative to the available plant biomass. This relationship was stronger for yearlings than for calves, except for the effect of population density. This indicates that differences in the characteristics of the vegetation quality and environmental phenology, as well as winter harshness and population density, are important factors that shape both the latitudinal and other geographical gradients in moose body mass.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00442-006-0519-8DOI Listing
November 2006

Population characteristics predict responses in moose body mass to temporal variation in the environment.

J Anim Ecol 2006 Sep;75(5):1110-8

Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.

1. A general problem in population ecology is to predict under which conditions stochastic variation in the environment has the stronger effect on ecological processes. By analysing temporal variation in a fitness-related trait, body mass, in 21 Norwegian moose Alces alces (L.) populations, we examined whether the influence of temporal variation in different environmental variables were related to different parameters that were assumed to reflect important characteristics of the fundamental niche space of the moose. 2. Body mass during autumn was positively related to early access to fresh vegetation in spring, and to variables reflecting slow phenological development (low June temperature, a long spring with a slow plant progression during spring). In contrast, variables related to food quantity and winter conditions had only a minor influence on temporal variation in body mass. 3. The magnitude of the effects of environmental variation on body mass was larger in populations with small mean body mass or living at higher densities than in populations with large-sized individuals or living at lower densities. 4. These results indicate that the strongest influence of environmental stochasticity on moose body mass occurs towards the borders of the fundamental niche space, and suggests that populations living under good environmental conditions are partly buffered against fluctuations in environmental conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2656.2006.01138.xDOI Listing
September 2006

Food competition between a large ruminant and a small hindgut fermentor: the case of the roe deer and mountain hare.

Oecologia 2001 Aug 1;128(4):499-508. Epub 2001 Aug 1.

Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Tungasletta 2, 7005, Trondheim, Norway.

In this study, we demonstrate that the mountain hare and roe deer compete with each other. This was determined using "natural experiments" of populations found in sympatry and allopatry on the islands along the west coast of Norway. We demonstrate that both species occupy the same habitats, share the same food resources and that food availability is limited. Two browsing species as different in size as roe deer and mountain hare might be expected to partition the available vegetation (e.g. woody scrub) in terms of height above ground level. However, from the evidence collected, the feeding-height-separation hypothesis must be rejected as an explanation for ecological separation between roe deer and mountain hares because there was extensive height overlap in resource utilisation by both species and neither species changed its feeding height in response to the presence of the other. Total browse utilisation did not increase when both species were together; rather, species-specific browse utilisation declined when the other species was present. However, the foraging behaviour of each herbivore varied significantly between the allopatric and sympatric sites. When both herbivores were present, the clip diameter of shoots browsed by mountain hares declined to match those selected by roe deer, while roe deer switched from a browse-dominated diet to a diet dominated by winter-green gramineae. The change to smaller-diameter shoots likely resulted in the hare increasing its intake of digestion-inhibiting or toxic secondary metabolites, while the alternative choice of digging through the snow like roe deer to reach the winter-green gramineae is a practice considered energetically too costly for hares. On this basis, we conclude that the enforced switch to a nutritionally inferior diet by mountain hares at the sympatric sites may result in changes to growth rate and body size which consequently impact on mortality and may explain the competitive superiority of the roe deer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s004420100683DOI Listing
August 2001