We analyzed data on 535 Ural Owl (Strix uralensis) breeding attempts and consecutive survival of both adults and offspring from 1987–1998 in relation to the regional abundance of the Ural Owl's main prey, voles, which show a cycle of low, increase, and peak phases in their population numbers. Vole abundance varied up to 49×, crashing during spring–summer every three years. The breeding population tracked abundance of voles in the previous autumn with respect to percentage of pairs breeding and their reproductive output (laying date, clutch size), largely irrespective of phase. Survival depended on vole density in the preceding autumn, but was generally highest in the increase phase. There was thus a paradoxical situation in the peak phases, when vole populations crashed; the owls produced large clutches, but those survived poorly. Some adaptive and nonadaptive scenarios of the Ural Owl's life history are discussed.
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Vol. 119 • No. 2