University of Oulu

Mappes, T., Z. Boratyński, K. Kivisaari, A. Lavrinienko, G. Milinevsky, T. A. Mousseau, A. P. Møller, E.Tukalenko, and P. C. Watts. 2019. Ecological mechanisms can modify radiation effects in a key forest mammal of Chernobyl. Ecosphere 10(4):e02667. 10.1002/ecs2.2667

Ecological mechanisms can modify radiation effects in a key forest mammal of Chernobyl

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Author: Mappes, Tapio1; Boratyński, Zbyszek1,2; Kivisaari, Kati1;
Organizations: 1Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, P.O. Box 35, Jyväskylä FI-40014 Finland
2CIBIO/InBIO, Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, University of Porto, Vairão PT-4485–661 Portugal
3Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu FI-90014 Finland
4Physics Faculty, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, 64/13 Volodymyrska Street, Kyiv UA-01601 Ukraine
5Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South California 29208 USA
6Ecologie Systématique Evolution, Université Paris-Sud, CNRS, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, Orsay Cedex F-91405 France
7National Research Center for Radiation Medicine of the National Academy of Medical Science, Kyiv 04050 Ukraine
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-08-12


Nuclear accidents underpin the need to quantify the ecological mechanisms which determine injury to ecosystems from chronic low‐dose radiation. Here, we tested the hypothesis that ecological mechanisms interact with ionizing radiation to affect natural populations in unexpected ways. We used large‐scale replicated experiments and food manipulations in wild populations of the rodent, Myodes glareolus, inhabiting the region near the site of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. We show linear decreases in breeding success with increasing ambient radiation levels with no evidence of any threshold below which effects are not seen. Food supplementation of experimental populations resulted in increased abundances but only in locations where radioactive contamination was low (i.e., below ≈ 1 μSv/h). In areas with higher contamination, food supplementation showed no detectable effects. These findings suggest that chronic low‐dose‐rate irradiation can decrease the stability of populations of key forest species, and these effects could potentially scale to broader community changes with concomitant consequences for the ecosystem functioning of forests impacted by nuclear accidents.

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Series: Ecosphere
ISSN: 2150-8925
ISSN-E: 2150-8925
ISSN-L: 2150-8925
Volume: 10
Issue: 4
Article number: e02667
DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.2667
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This study was financially supported by Academy of Finland grants to TM (268670) and PCW (287153), Emil Aaltonen Foundation and Oskar Oflund Foundation to KK, the postdoctoral grantee from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (RH/BPD/84822/2012) to ZB, and the Graduate School of the University of Oulu to AL. Additional support was provided by the CNRS (France), the Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust, the Fulbright Program, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Carolina.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 287153
Detailed Information: 287153 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2019 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.