Publications

NIBIOs employees contribute to several hundred scientific articles and research reports every year. You can browse or search in our collection which contains references and links to these publications as well as other research and dissemination activities. The collection is continously updated with new and historical material.

2021

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Abstract

Population fluctuations of small rodents are often synchronized over larger areas (>100 km) than what could be explained by dispersal, suggesting that the synchronizing factor is weather-related and possibly mediated through changes in food quality. Because bank vole (Myodes glareolus) populations usually peak 1 year after peaks in reproduction of the staple winter food plant bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), we tested for a possible link between food and spatial synchrony by comparing the synchrony in bank vole population indices and bilberry seed production indices between three study areas across about 20,000 km2 in South Norway during a four decade period (1979–2019). There were subperiods of spatial synchrony and asynchrony between the study areas in the fluctuations of bank vole numbers and bilberry seed production, with the latter part of the study period displaying more pronounced synchrony than the first and middle part. However, with a few marked exceptions, when vole fluctuations were spatially out of phase across study areas so was bilberry seed production. Thus, we conclude that bilberry seed production to a large extent explained the spatiotemporal synchronicity in bank vole population fluctuations. Although bilberry seed production seems to be a causal driver of vole fluctuations, it remains to be seen to what extent the chemical composition of bilberry plants influences vole performance. Finally, certain weather factors may still influence voles directly, or indirectly by triggering bilberry seed production.

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Abstract

Organisms use circadian rhythms to anticipate and exploit daily environmental oscillations. While circadian rhythms are of clear importance for inhabitants of tropic and temperate latitudes, its role for permanent residents of the polar regions is less well understood. The high Arctic Svalbard ptarmigan shows behavioral rhythmicity in presence of light-dark cycles but is arrhythmic during the polar day and polar night. This has been suggested to be an adaptation to the unique light environment of the Arctic. In this study, we examined regulatory aspects of the circadian control system in the Svalbard ptarmigan by recording core body temperature (Tb) alongside locomotor activity in captive birds under different photoperiods. We show that Tb and activity are rhythmic with a 24-h period under short (SP; L:D 6:18) and long photoperiod (LP; L:D 16:8). Under constant light and constant darkness, rhythmicity in Tb attenuates and activity shows signs of ultradian rhythmicity. Birds under SP also showed a rise in Tb preceding the light-on signal and any rise in activity, which proves that the light-on signal can be anticipated, most likely by a circadian system.