Nuclear accidents underpin the need to quantify the ecological mechanisms which determineinjury to ecosystems from chronic low-dose radiation. Here, we tested the hypothesis that ecological mech-anisms interact with ionizing radiation to affect natural populations in unexpected ways. We used large-scale replicated experiments and food manipulations in wild populations of the rodent, Myodes glareolus,inhabiting the region near the site of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. We show linear decreases in breedingsuccess with increasing ambient radiation levels with no evidence of any threshold below which effects arenot seen. Food supplementation of experimental populations resulted in increased abundances but only inlocations where radioactive contamination was low (i.e., below 1 lSv/h). In areas with higher contami-nation, food supplementation showed no detectable effects. These ﬁndings suggest that chronic low-dose-rate irradiation can decrease the stability of populations of key forest species, and these effects couldpotentially scale to broader community changes with concomitant consequences for the ecosystemfunctioning of forests impacted by nuclear accidents.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Published in Ecosphere, Volume 10, Issue 4, 2019.
© 2019 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Mappes, T., Boratyński, Z., Kivisaari, K., Lavrinienko, A., Milinevsky, G., Mousseau, T. A., Møller, A. P., Tukalenko, E., & Watts, P. C. (2019).Ecological Mechanisms Can Modify Radiation Effects in a Key Forest Mammal of Chernobyl. Ecosphere, 10(4), e02667.