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Tawny Owl and Vole Populations in Kielder Forest

7pm. Great North Museum: Hancock.

For over 20 years Xavier Lambin and his team have been conducting research in Kielder Forest to study how vole populations go through cycles of ‘boom and burst’ and also seemingly do the ‘Mexican wave’. In this talk he will show how the life choices of Tawny Owls in Kielder are tightly constrained by changes in vole abundance and how the vole cycle drives many ecological processes involving, plants, animals and their pathogens. He will discuss how the heart beat of the vole cycle has become fainter in recent years in Kielder and other grass dominated ecosystems in Europe and what the consequences of this change might be for predators relying on voles as their staple food.

Xavier Lambin is Professor of Ecology at the University of Aberdeen. He trains students and conducts research on a wide range of topics in population ecology. He seeks to understand how the way different species interact in ecosystems cause fluctuations in the abundance of some species, including the striking multi-annual cycles of abundance of small mammals that result in years of plenty and years of scarcity for vole predators. Xavier is very active in community based conservation and works on a wide range of organisms including Water Vole, American Mink, birds of prey, plants and microbes of birds and mammals.