Evol Ecol Res 14: 689-705 (2012)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Climate-induced habitat selection predicts future evolutionary strategies of lemmings

Douglas W. Morris, Angélique Dupuch* and William D. Halliday#

Department of Biology, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence: D.W. Morris, Department of Biology, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, ONT P7B 5E1, Canada.
e-mail: douglas.morris@lakeheadu.ca


Questions: Can we merge theories of habitat selection with changes in habitat and habitat use to predict future strategies of habitat selection? If so, do changes in the frequency of upland and meadow habitats exploited by two species of lemmings confirm that their strategies of habitat selection have also changed?

Field methods: We measured habitat at 300 permanent stations on 12 study plots in 1996 and in 2010. We classified habitat into upland versus meadow categories and estimated population abundances of the two lemming species in both habitats in eight different years.

Statistical and conceptual methods: Logistic regression, path analysis, isodars, invader strategy landscapes.

Assumptions: Lemmings are ideal density-dependent habitat selectors. Habitat selection strategies vary with density and depend on the frequency of alternative strategies.

Results: Meadow habitat became more frequent while the proportion of upland habitat declined. Habitat selection strategies shifted with changes in habitat even though lemming abundance was lower in warm years than in cool years. Shallow selection gradients, which yield a small fitness advantage for the optimum strategy at low density, become increasingly steep at high densities.

Conclusion: Analysis of altered patterns of habitat selection can forecast future strategies of habitat use with changing climate. But reductions in lemming abundance with global warming portend an increasing role for stochasticity in their future habitat selection.

Keywords: Arctic, climate change, competition, Dicrostonyx, evolutionarily stable strategies, isodar, Lemmus, path analysis, tundra.

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