Suggestions of collapse in small herbivore cycles since the 1980s have raised concerns about the loss of essential ecosystem functions. Whether such phenomena are general and result from extrinsic environmental changes or from intrinsic process stochasticity is currently unknown. Using a large compilation of time series of vole abundances, we demonstrate consistent cycle amplitude dampening associated with a reduction in winter population growth, although regulatory processes responsible for cyclicity have not been lost. The underlying syndrome of change throughout Europe and grass-eating vole species suggests a common climatic driver. Increasing intervals of low-amplitude small herbivore population fluctuations are expected in the future, and these may have cascading impacts on trophic webs across ecosystems.
- grey-sided vole
- lemming cycles