Réponses des prédateurs aviaires aux fluctuations d'abondance de proies dans la toundra

Authors: Therrien, Jean-François
Advisor: Bety, Joël; Gauthier, Gilles
Abstract: Evaluation of the role played by predator-prey interactions in an ecosystem is essential to understand its food web structure. Predation has been suggested to be especially important in simple food webs characterized by a low primary productivity such as the boreal forest or the Arctic tundra. We first measured the predation pressure that the main species of predatory birds imposed on small mammal populations of the tundra by assessing precisely their numerical, functional and total responses on Bylot Island, Nunavut and Herschel Island, Yukon, Canada. We were able to show that the predation pressure imposed by predatory birds is very strong, and appears to be sufficient to limit the populations of one of the two species of lemmings during the summer. We then studied the annual movements of snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) to better assess its role in the spatial dynamic of the Arctic terrestrial ecosystem. Using satellite telemetry, we showed that owls do extensive exploratory movements in spring and exhibit very large annual breeding dispersal movements. In addition, we evaluated the annual survival and reproduction rates in breeding female snowy owl and showed that these birds can breed every year in an environment where resource availability can vary considerably and irregularly from year to year. Finally, we investigated winter space use in this species. We were able to demonstrate the close links between ecosystems as snowy owls, well-known to specialize on rodents, seem to feed on marine prey for a significant part of their annual cycle. Globally, our results show that avian predators can greatly influence the tundra food web functioning. Their role is apparently modulated by their mobility and access to allochthonous subsidies.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2012
Open Access Date: 18 April 2018
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/23664
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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