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Keywords:

  • stoat;
  • Mustela erminea;
  • subarctic;
  • home range;
  • habitat choice

Abstract

We monitored the home ranges, habitat use and activity of stoats Mustela erminea in north-west Finnish Lapland with radio-tracking in years 1998 and 1999, and found a dominance hierarchy in habitat use between and within sexes. Altogether, eight female and seven male stoats were caught and radio-tracked. Males and females differed from each other both in the size of their home ranges and in habitats. Mature females live in areas where the abundance of the preferred Microtus prey is the highest. Dominant males lived in less productive habitats than females, but in more productive areas than non-dominant mature males. Furthermore, both male and female activity levels were higher during the snowless non-breeding season than the breeding season, but we found no activity differences between sexes through the diurnal cycle. We compare the results from Finnish Lapland with those from other regions, and discuss the flexibility of stoat behaviour in subarctic conditions.