A predator-prey-correlation between the European polecat Mustela putorius L., 1758 and the wild rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus (L., 1758)

Autor(en): Schropfer, R
Bodenstein, C
Seebass, C
Stichwörter: Zoology
Erscheinungsdatum: 2000
Herausgeber: WILEY
Volumen: 46
Ausgabe: 1
Startseite: 1
Seitenende: 13
On the basis of the game records of polecat and wild rabbit collected over 64 years from the hunting-district Gut Leye/Atter near Osnabruck (fig. 1 and 2), a study was conducted to determine the predator-prey-relationship between these two species. Also some data from the weather station in Osnabruck were used to consider the influence of climate on the population dynamics. In order to estimate the reliability of our database, the corresponding game records from Lower Saxony were taken into account. The analysis of auto-correlations points out cyclic population changes for both series: a ``quasi-cycle'' of about 16 years for the wild rabbit and ``uneven quasi-cycle'' of about 15 years for the polecat (fig. 3 and 4). By multiple regression a relationship between both species was confirmed. The resulting model explains 36% of the variability of the polecat series from the oscillations of the wild rabbit series (tab. 1, see fig, 5). On the other hand, a principal component analysis reveals that especially the actual summer and winter conditions determine 31% of the wild rabbit dynamics (tab. 2, fig. 6). Accordingly most rabbits can be hunted in those years which show low precipitation with a cold winter and a warm summer. For both species the respective hunting bags from the last year affect the actual ones. In addition the polecat bag is influenced by the rabbit bag from the actual and last year (tab. 3). Therefore the polecat seems to depend directly on the population density of the wild rabbit and hence also indirectly on the weather conditions. Evidently the polecat is able to respond to the changing abundance of this prey species.
ISSN: 00442887
DOI: 10.1007/BF02240659

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