Immigration ensures population survival in the Siberian flying squirrel
Brommer, Jon E.; Wistbacka, Ralf; Selonen, Vesa (2017-02-15)
Brommer JE, Wistbacka R, Selonen V. Immigration ensures population survival in the Siberian flying squirrel. Ecol Evol. 2017;7:1858–1868. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2807
© 2017 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 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.
Linking dispersal to population growth remains a challenging task and is a major knowledge gap, for example, for conservation management. We studied relative roles of different demographic rates behind population growth in Siberian flying squirrels in two nest-box breeding populations in western Finland. Adults and offspring were captured and individually identifiable. We constructed an integrated population model, which estimated all relevant annual demographic rates (birth, local [apparent] survival, and immigration) as well as population growth rates. One population (studied 2002–2014) fluctuated around a steady-state equilibrium, whereas the other (studied 1995–2014) showed a numerical decline. Immigration was the demographic rate which showed clear correlations to annual population growth rates in both populations. Population growth rate was density dependent in both populations. None of the demographic rates nor the population growth rate correlated across the two study populations, despite their proximity suggesting that factors regulating the dynamics are determined locally. We conclude that flying squirrels may persist in a network of uncoupled subpopulations, where movement between subpopulations is of critical importance. Our study supports the view that dispersal has the key role in population survival of a small forest rodent.
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