The Impact of Predation by Weasels on Populations of Natural Prey

the popular picture of the weasels described in Chapter 1 is rather different from the real one. No doubt a vole would agree with the proverbial description of a weasel as "the Nemesis of Nature's little people," but the ecologist has the advantage of not having to see the weasel from the viewpoint of the vole. In a face-to-face encounter, the odds are usually in favor of the weasel, but the weasel has first to make the encounter. In this, the long-term odds are certainly in favor of the vole.

Besides, the meeting of a single vole and a single weasel tells us nothing about the impact of weasels on the numbers of voles, since the fates of populations cannot be gauged from the fates of individuals. Therein lies one of the main reasons why predation by weasels, or any other predator, is such a tricky subject to investigate. The converse questions, of estimating the effect on weasel populations of losses to larger predators and to trappers and gamekeepers, are equally difficult, for the same reasons.

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