A geographic gradient in small rodent density fluctuations: a statistical modelling approach

O.N. Bjørnstad, W. Falck and N.C. Stenseth: A geographic gradient in small rodent density fluctuations - a statistical modelling approach

Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B (1995) 262: 127-133


The patterns of density dependence in Fennoscandian rodents are investigated statistically using a linear autoregressive scheme. Fifteen time series of microtine abundances along a latitudinal gradient in Fennoscandia from 60°N to 69ºN are analysed. We provide statistical evidence that there exists a latitudinal gradient in density dependence in Fennoscandian microtines. Southern populations experience significantly stronger direct density dependence than Northern populations. Delayed density dependence was significantly negative throughout the region and appeared constant across the latitudinal gradient. The populations consistently exhibit dynamics of second order throughout the region. Together, the clinal direct density dependence and constant delayed density dependence give rise to a cline in cycle period from 3 to 4.5 years. The statistical results are compared to assumptions and predictions made in previous studies on the geographic gradient in the population dynamics of these rodents. The results are in agreement with predictions of the ‘generalist predator hypothesis’.

Key words: Comparative population dynamics; Spatio-temporal pattern; Time series analysis; Fennoscandian peninsula; Density dependence; Autoregressive models