In Fennoscandia, red-backed vole populations (Myodes spp.) often show regular fluctuations of abundance of 3- to 5-year periods. In contrast, only a few populations show evidence of cyclic fluctuations in North America. From 2001 to 2009, we livetrapped southern red-backed voles (Myodes gapperi) in 3 mature jack pine and 3 mature black spruce forest stands in the Muskuchii hills region, Quebec, Canada. We found that their density fluctuated (up to 41-fold) with a cyclical pattern and 4-year periods. Our study is the first to demonstrate cyclic dynamics in a southern red-backed vole population found in the boreal forest of North America. Regular pulse of food or heavy predation may be responsible for the fluctuations of southern red-backed voles. Furthermore, vole cycles may help elucidate the factors driving the irruptions of owls in the boreal forest.
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Vol. 96 • No. 3