"Linking Behavior, Life History and Food Supply with the Population Dynamics of White-Footed Mice: Forty Years in the Woods"
Dr. Steve Vessey
Bowling Green State University
I will review and integrate key aspects of behavioral and life history traits, food supply and population dynamics of the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus), a rodent species that is abundant and widely distributed across much of eastern North America. Results are based largely on a 40-year mark-and-recapture study in a forest fragment in northwest Ohio, USA. Behavioral plasticity in such reproductive traits as mating system and parental care allows this species to adjust quickly to changing environments. The species has a relatively “fast” life history, with rapid attainment of sexual maturity and high fecundity in the face of high mortality rates. Maximal reproductive effort early in life enables a rapid population response. Food supply, largely in the form of hickory mast, determines the size of the reproducing population in early spring, which, in turn, influences the size of the late summer peak population. The peak population size is also affected by short-term weather events possibly acting via the food supply. The effects of weather and food on population growth are in part mediated through competition, including defense of space and suppression of reproduction. The inelasticity of female territories appears to set an upper limit to population density.
Host: John Cummings (email@example.com)
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