Individual growth rates in natural field vole, Microtus agrestis, populations exhibiting cyclic population dynamics

Burthe, Sarah Janette; Lambin, Xavier; Telfer, Sandra; Douglas, Alex; Beldomenico, Pablo; Smith, Andrew; Begon, Michael. 2010 Individual growth rates in natural field vole, Microtus agrestis, populations exhibiting cyclic population dynamics. Oecologia, 162. 653-661.

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Rodents that have multi-annual cycles of density are known to have flexible growth strategies, and the “Chitty effect”, whereby adults in the high-density phase of the cycle exhibit larger average body mass than during the low phase, is a well-documented feature of cyclic populations. Despite this, there have been no studies that have repeatedly monitored individual vole growth over time from all phases of a density cycle, in order to evaluate whether such variation in body size is due to differences in juvenile growth rates, differences in growth periods, or differential survival of particularly large or small voles. This study compares growth trajectories from voles during the peak, increase and crash phases of the cycle in order to evaluate whether voles are exhibiting fast or slow growth strategies. We found that although voles reach highest asymptotic weights in the peak phase and lowest asymptotes during the crash, initial growth rates were not significantly different. This suggests that voles attain larger body size during the peak phase as a result of growing for longer.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 1 - Observations, Patterns, and Predictions for Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Watt
ISSN: 0029-8549
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: The final publication is available at
Additional Keywords: Chitty effect, juvenile growth, multi-annual density cycles, rodent, body size
Date made live: 25 Jan 2011 16:17 +0 (UTC)

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