Updated 2017-05-02

Important progress has been made in recent decades to describe and understand how arctic terrestrial vertebrate interact, especially concerning predator-prey interactions. Indirect interactions between different prey species modulated by shared predators (e.g. Arctic fox) are believed to have important impacts on the structure and/or dynamics of some communities. Yet, our understanding of these types of interactions is still fragmentary. To fill that gap, we will build on ongoing projects exploring related questions in Canada (Marie-Andrée Giroux, Nicolas Lecomte, Joël Bêty) and Greenland (Olivier Gilg, Niels M. Schmidt), while taking advantage of existing networks (ADSN in North America and “Interactions” program in Greenland and Eurasia). The aim of the project is to promote the implementation of several common protocols that will (1) improve each collaborator’s knowledge at the site level and, more importantly, that will (2) be merged across sites and years to improve our understanding of the functioning and the influence of indirect interactions on arctic vertebrate communities in general.

Five types of data have been identified (by the 5 initiators of the project already mentioned above) as being mandatories to answer questions related to this topic. These data sets will be collected using 5 specific protocols described in the following chapters:

  1. Monitor predation pressure using artificial nests
  2. Monitor real predation pressure on Calidris nests using Tiny Tags
  3. Observations of predators and lemmings (3b: fox scats DNA barcoding)
  4. Assessing lemming (or “rodent”) relative abundance using different methods
  5. Assessing “herbivores” (excl. rodents) relative abundance using “faeces transects”
Comments and additional information:

Olivier Gilg and Loic Bollache (Hochstetter, Greenland) are supported since 2011 by the French Polar Institute (IPEV): programm 1036 INTERACTIONS.

Time frame

Project time span
2010 - 2018
Data collection
2010 - 2018
Data processing
2010 - 2018
Data reporting
2010 - 2018

Contact information

Contact person
Olivier GILG

GREA (Arctic Ecology Research Group) Route de Vernot F-21440 Francheville France

+33 6 25 83 37 32

Parameters and Media

Parameter groups measured/observed/modelled
Biological effects
Climate change effects
Media sampled/studied/modelled
Terrestrial birds
Terrestrial mammals
Additional information or further specification of types of data / information collected, species / tissues / organs sampled, etc.

Species studied: Collared lemming (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus) and its four main predators in NE Greenland > Long-tailed Skua (Stercorarius longicaudus), Snowy Owl (Nyctea scandiaca), Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) and Stoat (Mustela erminea) For the four predators: Diet Functional responses to lemming densities Numerical responses to lemming densities

For alternative prey (Calidris species): predation rates


Regions studied
Climate change effects
Climate change effects
Other areas

Northeast Greenland National Park

Hochstetter Forland

Stations or areas where observations are made

75°15' N / 20° W

Data availability

References to key publications (or planned publications) and data reports

Bulla, M., M. Valcu, H. Prüter, H. Vitnerová, W. Tijsen, M. Sládeček, J. A. Alves, O. Gilg, and B. Kempenaers. (submitted) Flexible parental care: Uniparental incubation in biparentally incubating shorebirds. Scientific Reports.

Moreau, J., L. Perroud, L. Bollache, G. Yannic, M. Teixeira, N. M. Schmidt, J. Reneerkens, and O. Gilg. (submitted). Discriminating uni- versus biparental parental care strategy at nest by monitoring nest temperature. Ibis.

41. Moseley, G. E., O. Gilg, R. Solheim, I. Hajdas, C. Spötl, H. Cheng, and R. L. Edwards. 2017. First pre-modern record of the snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) in Northeast Greenland. Polar Research (in press).

40. Henttonen, H., O. Gilg, E. Korpimaki, R. A. Ims, and N. G. Yoccoz. 2017. Small mammal dynamics: from shrews to vole and  lemming models. Annales Zoologi Fennici (in press).

39. Berteaux, D. et al. 2017. Harmonizing circumpolar monitoring of Arctic fox: benefits, opportunities, challenges, recommendations. Polar Research (in press).

38. Andreassen, P. N. S., Schmidt, N. M., Kapel, C. M. O., Christensen, M. U., Sittler, B., Gilg, O., Enemark, H. L. & Al-Sabi, M. N. S. 2017. Gastrointestinal Parasites of Two Populations of Arctic Foxes (Vulpes lagopus) from Northeast Greenland. Polar Research (in press).

37. Schmidt, N. M., B. Hardwick, O. Gilg, T. T. Høye, P. H. Krogh, H. Meltofte, A. Michelsen, J. B. Mosbacher, K. Raundrup, J. Reneerkens, L. Stewart, H. Wirta, and T. Roslin. 2017. Interaction webs in arctic ecosystems: Determinants of arctic change? Ambio 46:12-25.

35. van Bemmelen, R., B. Moe, S. A. Hanssen, N. M. Schmidt, J. Hansen, J. Lang, B. Sittler, L. Bollache, I. Tulp, M. Klaasen, and O. Gilg. 2017. Flexibility in otherwise consistent non-breeding movements of a long-distance migratory seabird, the long-tailed skua. Marine Ecology Progress Series.

34. Bulla, M. et al. 2016. Unexpected diversity in socially synchronized rhythms of shorebirds. Nature 540:109-113.

32. Reneerkens, J., N. M. Schmidt, O. Gilg, J. Hansen, L. H. Hansen, J. Moreau, and T. Piersma 2016. Effects of food abundance and early clutch predation on reproductive timing in a high Arctic shorebird experiencing advancements in arthropod abundance. Ecology and Evolution 6:7375-7386.

29. Weiser, E. L. et al. 2016. Effects of geolocators on hatching success, return rates, breeding movements, and change in body mass in 16 species of Arctic-breeding shorebirds. Movement Ecology 4:12.

26. Wirta, H. K., E. J. Vesterinen, P. A. Hambäck, E. Weingartner, C. Rasmussen, J. Reneerkens, N. M. Schmidt, O. Gilg, and T. Roslin. 2015. Exposing the structure of an Arctic food web. Ecology and Evolution 5:3842-3856.

24. Hansen, J., Ek, M., Roslin, T., Moreau, J., Teixeira, M., Gilg, O. & Schmidt, N. M. 2015. First observation of a four-egg clutch of Long-tailed Jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus). Wilson Journal of Ornithology 127:149-153.

22. Barraquand, F., T. T. Høye, J.-A. Henden, N. G. Yoccoz, O. Gilg, N. M. Schmidt, B. Sittler, and R. A. Ims. 2014. Demographic responses of a site-faithful and territorial predator to its fluctuating prey: Long-tailed skuas and arctic lemmings. Journal of Animal Ecology 83:375-387.

19. Gilg, O., B. Moe, S. A. Hanssen, N. M. Schmidt, B. Sittler, J. Hansen, J. Reneerkens, B. Sabard, O. Chastel, J. Moreau, R. A. Phillips, T. Oudman, E. M. Biersma, A. A. Fenstad, J. Lang, and L. Bollache. 2013. Trans-Equatorial Migration Routes, Staging Sites and Wintering Areas of a High-Arctic Avian Predator: The Long-tailed Skua (Stercorarius longicaudus). PLoS ONE 8:e64614

18. Schmidt, N. M., R. A. Ims, T. T. Høye, O. Gilg, L. H. Hansen, J. Hansen, M. Lund, E. Fuglei, M. C. Forchhammer, and B. Sittler. 2012. Response of an arctic predator guild to collapsing lemming cycles. Proc. R. Soc. B 279:4417-4422.

17. Gilg, O., K. M. Kovacs, J. Aars, J. Fort, G. Gauthier, D. Gremillet, R. A. Ims, H. Meltofte, J. Moreau, E. Post, N. M. Schmidt, G. Yannic, and L. Bollache. 2012. Climate change and the ecology and evolution of Arctic vertebrates. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1249:166-190.

15. Sittler, B., A. Aebischer, and O. Gilg. 2011. Post-breeding migration of four Long-tailed Skuas (Stercorarius longicaudus) from North and East Greenland to West Africa. Journal of Ornithology 152:375-381.

12. Gilg, O. & Yoccoz, NG (2010) Explaining bird migration. - Science 327: 276-277.

10. Gilg, O., Sittler, B. & Hanski, I. (2009). Climate change and cyclic predator-prey population dynamics in the high-Arctic. Global Change Biology 15: 2634–2652.

9. Post, E., Forchhammer, M.C., Bret-Harte, S., Callaghan, T.V., Christensen, T.R., Elberling, B., Fox, A.D., Gilg, O. et al. (2009). Ecological Dynamics Across the Arctic Associated with Recent Climate Change. Science 325:1355-1358.

7. Wang, H, Nagy, J.D., Gilg, O. & Kuang, Y. (2009). The roles of predator maturation delay and functional response in determining the periodicity of predator–prey cycles. Mathematical Biosciences 221:1-10.

6. Gilg, O., Sittler, B., Sabard, B., Hurstel, A., Sane, R., Delattre, P. and Hanski, I. 2006. Functional and numerical responses of four lemming predators in high-Arctic Greenland. Oikos 113: 193-216.

5. Gilg, O. & Börn, E. 2005 Recent sightings of the bowhead whale in NE Greenland and the Greenland Sea. Polar Biology 28: 796-801.

4. Gilg, O., Hanski, I. and Sittler, B. 2003 – Cyclic dynamics in a simple vertebrate predator-prey community. Science 302: 866-868.

3. Gilg, O.; 2002 - The summer decline of the collared lemming (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus) in high arctic Greenland. Oikos (99): 499-510.

1. Sittler, B., Gilg, O. and Berg, T.B. 2000. Low abundance of King eider nests during low lemming years in Northeast Greenland. Arctic 53(1), 53-60.

Samples/specimens archived in specimen banks?

Methods & Procedures

Not specified

Additional Information

Is this a bi- AND multi-lateral project (i.e. a project involving cooperation between different countries)?
Other institutes involved in the project

3 main collaborators/sites in Greenland (Uni. Bourgogne/France, Uni Aarhus/Denmark and Uni Freiburg/Germany)

12 sites for the circumpolar network (3 in Greenland, 3 in Russia, 4 in Canada, 1 in Alaska and 1 in Scandinavia)

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