Field vole Microtus agrestis abundance and hen harrier Circus cyaneus diet and breeding in Scotland

S M Redpath, S J Thirgood, R Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In many parts of the global range, voles form an important part of the diet of Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus, and breeding numbers are correlated with the abundance of these small mammals. In Scotland, however, little information is available on harrier diet in the spring and our understanding of causes of variation in harrier breeding density is complicated by human interference, In this paper we explore the relationship between Field Vole Microtus agrestis abundance and harrier spring diet, density and productivity in southern Scotland. Over three years, voles occurred on average in 67% of pellets, and 79% in years of high and intermediate vole abundance. From 1992, the number of breeding harriers increased following protection from illegal persecution. After accounting for this trend, harrier numbers correlated strongly with vole abundance. Harrier clutch size was also correlated with vole abundance. Although fledging success tended to be greater in years of vole increase than in years of vole decline, fledging success was not significantly correlated with the relative abundance of voles, or with the abundance of Meadow Pipits or Red Grouse chicks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E33-E38
Number of pages6
JournalIbis
Volume144
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2002

Keywords

  • GROUSE MOORS
  • RED GROUSE
  • POPULATION FLUCTUATIONS
  • NORTHERN HARRIERS
  • RAPTOR PREDATION
  • C-CYANEUS
  • PREY
  • RESPONSES
  • SUCCESS
  • NESTS

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