March 2019

A male willow ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) in winter plumage, well camouflaged in the snow. In the Fennoscandian mountain tundra, ptarmigan is a medium-sized alternative prey to rodents. In our study, a dominant top-down effect from predators on ptarmigan was assumed to be present in winter, following the theory that climate warming would strengthen top-down effects, especially in the low arctic tundra where red fox is expanding. Our results gave weak support for this hypothesis. Instead, bottom-up constraints appeared more influential on the winter community structure. Photo by Marianne Stoessel. Full Open Access paper

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