Climate change in Norway: Warm summers limit grouse reproduction
Grouse and vole numbers may peak after peaks in the seed crop of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) because of reduced levels of feeding deterrents in bilberry plants. We predicted that grouse reproduction depends also on summer (June-September) temperatures in the 2 previous years, because bilberry plants will be less exhausted after a high seed crop in or after warm summers, and thus rebuild their chemical defence more quickly. After berry peak years, population indices of capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) and bank vole (Myodes glareolus) in southern Norway were negatively related to summer temperatures in the previous year or previous 2 years. Willow grouse (Lagopus lagopus) chick production in five areas in Norway was negatively related to summer temperatures in the 2 previous years when controlling for vole density. A similar pattern was found for the bilberry-feeding moth (Eulithis populata), an important prey for grouse chicks. In eastern Norway, autumn densities of capercaillie and black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) were more likely to peak in vole peak years at high altitudes, where summer temperatures are low. We conclude that high summer temperatures may limit grouse reproduction through the effect on bilberry plants and that a warm climate thus adversely affects population levels of grouse. © 2010 The Society of Population Ecology and Springer.
Selås, V., Sonerud, G., Framstad, E., Kålås, J., Kobro, S., Pedersen, H., Spidsø, T. & Wiig, Ø. (2011) Climate change in Norway: Warm summers limit grouse reproduction. Population Ecology, 53, 361-371.