Density Variation In Longtailed Weasels

Little information is available on the density and population dynamics of longtails. Simms' (1979b) density index for longtails in his study area in Ontario was much lower (averaging 0.5C per 100 TN) than that of the much smaller stoats (averaging 2.6C per 100 TN). A completely independent study in Indiana also found an overall density index for longtails of 0.5C per 100 TN (Gehring & Swihart 2004). Because longtails have a more generalist diet and a less extremely opportunistic lifestyle, their numbers may be relatively more stable than those of the smaller weasels.

On the other hand, longtails probably still respond to a glut of small rodents just as the other weasels do. Edson (1933) reported that after a heavy crop of vetch seeds in the autumn of 1931, mice were abundant during the winter. In May of 1932 he caught a longtail in a trap set for mountain beavers, followed by nine more before October. Likewise, in summer 1979 both Clethrionomys and longtails were common on the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, but by the following summer, both were gone (R.A. Powell personal observation).

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