Experimental translocation of juvenile water voles in a Scottish lowland metapopulation

Fisher, D. O., Lambin, X. and Yletyinen, S. M. (2009) Experimental translocation of juvenile water voles in a Scottish lowland metapopulation. Population Ecology, 51 2: 289-295. doi:10.1007/s10144-008-0122-4

Author Fisher, D. O.
Lambin, X.
Yletyinen, S. M.
Title Experimental translocation of juvenile water voles in a Scottish lowland metapopulation
Journal name Population Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1438-3896
Publication date 2009-04-01
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s10144-008-0122-4
Open Access Status
Volume 51
Issue 2
Start page 289
End page 295
Total pages 7
Place of publication Japan
Publisher Springer Japan KK
Language eng
Subject C1
060207 Population Ecology
9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Abstract Population density affects dispersal success because residents can hinder or facilitate immigration into a new site, via a “social fence effect” or “social attraction” (or “conspecific attraction”), respectively. These mechanisms can affect the dynamics of fragmented populations and the success of translocations. However, information on the settlement behaviour of dispersers is rare. We conducted a manipulative field experiment using wild water voles, which exist in metapopulations along waterways in Scotland. We translocated 17 young of dispersal age into either an occupied site or a vacant site containing good habitat, which had recently become extinct due to a feral predator (American mink) moving through. We monitored the movements of translocated voles using radio telemetry. Translocated voles were less likely to settle in occupied sites with higher densities of residents, suggesting a possible social fence effect at high density. There was evidence of a social attraction mechanism, because voles never remained at new sites unless another individual arrived soon after translocation, and they were more likely to settle in occupied or colonised sites than vacant ones. Voles remained in the transient phase of dispersal for many days, and often followed a “stepping stone” trajectory, stopping for several days at successive sites. We suggest that trajectories followed by dispersing water voles, the time scale and long dispersal distances found in this species are conducive to locating conspecifics at low density and colonising vacant habitat. These results are encouraging for prospects of metapopulation persistence and future translocation success.
Keyword Dispersal
Metapopulation dynamics
Social fence
Water vole
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Biological Sciences Publications
Ecology Centre Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 14 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 16 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 09 Jul 2009, 22:27:41 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences