Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Ecology. 2010 Nov;91(11):3131-7.

Active density-dependent habitat selection in a controlled population of small mammals.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biology, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario P7B 5E1, Canada.


Density-dependent habitat selection has numerous and far-reaching implications to population dynamics and evolutionary processes. Although several studies suggest that organisms choose and occupy high-quality habitats over poorer ones, definitive experiments demonstrating active selection, by the same individuals at the appropriate population scale, are lacking. We conducted a reciprocal food supplementation experiment to assess whether voles would first occupy a habitat receiving extra food, then change their preference to track food supplements moved to another habitat. Meadow voles, as predicted, were more abundant in food-supplemented habitat than in others. Density declined when food supplements ceased because the voles moved to the new habitat receiving extra food. Although males and females appeared to follow different strategies, meadow-vole densities reflected habitat quality because voles actively selected the best habitat available. It is thus clear that behavioral decisions on habitat use can motivate patterns of abundance, frequency, and gene flow that have widespread effects on subsequent evolution.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk