The population dynamics of bite-sized predators: Prey dependence, territoriality, and mobility

Xavier Lambin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Citations (Scopus)


The dependency of mustelid demographic rates on prey abundance has the potential to cause a strong coupling between predator-prey populations. Data on mustelid dynamics show that such strong reciprocal interactions only materialise in some restricted conditions. Bite-size mustelid predators searching for scarce, depleted prey expose themselves to increased risk of predation by larger predators of small mammal that are themselves searching for similar prey species. As voles or muskrats become scarcer, weasels and mink searching for prey over larger areas become increasingly exposed to intra-guild predation, unless they operate in a habitat refuge such as the sub-nivean space. Where larger predators are sufficiently abundant or exert year-round predation pressure on small mustelids, their impact on mustelids may impose biological barrier to dispersal that are sufficient to weaken the coupling between small mustelids and their rodent prey, and thus impose a degree of top down limitation on mustelids.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiology and Conservation of Musteloids
EditorsDavid W Macdonald, Chris Newman, Lauren A. Harrington
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780198759805
ISBN (Print)9780198759812
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Dispersal
  • Intra-guild predation
  • Mink
  • Muskrat
  • Population cycles
  • Prey synchrony
  • Vole
  • Weasel


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