University of Oulu

Selonen, V., Remm, J., Hanski, I.K. et al. Population fluctuations and spatial synchrony in an arboreal rodent. Oecologia 191, 861–871 (2019).

Population fluctuations and spatial synchrony in an arboreal rodent

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Author: Selonen, Vesa1; Remm, Jaanus1,2; Hanski, Ilpo K.3;
Organizations: 1Department of Biology, Section of Ecology, University of Turku, 20014, Turku, Finland
2Department of Zoology, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Vanemuise 46, 51014, Tartu, Estonia
3Kirkkotie 127A, 02570, Siuntio kk, Finland
4Natural Resources Institute Finland, P.O. Box 2, 00791, Helsinki, Finland
5Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, 00014, Helsinki, Finland
6Linnantie 10, 63350, Sulkavankylä, Finland
7University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Savonrannantie 12a, 79940, Vihtari, Finland
8Department of Biology, University of Oulu, 90014, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2019
Publish Date: 2020-02-27


Climatic conditions, trophic links between species and dispersal may induce spatial synchrony in population fluctuations. Spatial synchrony increases the extinction risk of populations and, thus, it is important to understand how synchrony-inducing mechanisms affect populations already threatened by habitat loss and climate change. For many species, it is unclear how population fluctuations vary over time and space, and what factors potentially drive this variation. In this study, we focus on factors determining population fluctuations and spatial synchrony in the Siberian flying squirrel, Pteromys volans, using long-term monitoring data from 16 Finnish populations located 2–400 km apart. We found an indication of synchronous population dynamics on a large scale in flying squirrels. However, the synchrony was not found to be clearly related to distance between study sites because the populations seemed to be strongly affected by small-scale local factors. The regularity of population fluctuations varied over time. The fluctuations were linked to changes in winter precipitation, which has previously been linked to the reproductive success of flying squirrels. Food abundance (tree mast) and predator abundance were not related to population fluctuations in this study. We conclude that spatial synchrony was not unequivocally related to distance in flying squirrels, as has been observed in earlier studies for more abundant rodent species. Our study also emphasises the role of climate in population fluctuations and the synchrony of the species.

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Series: Oecologia
ISSN: 0029-8549
ISSN-E: 1432-1939
ISSN-L: 0029-8549
Volume: 191
Pages: 861 - 871
DOI: 10.1007/s00442-019-04537-3
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: The study was financially supported by the Academy of Finland (Grant number 259562 to VS) and the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (IUT20-32 to Urmas Saarma).
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2019. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.