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Periodic swarming to find new resources: Norway lemmings

Norway lemmings emigrate en mass in search of food once their population size reaches 40-100 individuals per acre.

"One much smaller species of herbivorous mammal that still undergoes periodic swarming on a spectacular scale is the lemming. Displaying a formidable reproductive rate - more than 100 offspring can be born to a single pair within six months - a population of Norwegian lemmings (Lemmus lemmus) can expand very dramatically. In doing so, the lemmings deplete their food supply within a given area of the Scandinavian tundra and scrub that comprises their normal habitat. Once the population size reaches 40-100 individuals per acre (100-250 individuals per hectare), which tends to occur every three to five years, emigration ensues, whereby a sizable horde of these volelike rodents travels southward in search of food, expanding their population's range by 120 miles (200 km) or more as they go." (Shuker 2001:78-79)
About the inspiring organism
Norway lemming
Lemmus lemmus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common name: Norway lemming

Learn more at
Some organism data provided by: ITIS: The Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Modeling software.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: IT, communication

Shuker, KPN. 2001. The Hidden Powers of Animals: Uncovering the Secrets of Nature. London: Marshall Editions Ltd. 240 p.
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