Population structure and dynamics of sympatric Apodemus species (Rodentia: Muridae)


  • W. I. Montgomery

    1. Department of Zoology, University of Manchester, England
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    • *Department of Zoology, Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland.


This paper describes the population biology of sympatric populations of Apodemus sylvaticus and A. flavicollis in western England. Annual changes in population siie closely resembled those seen in allopatric populations such that simultaneous peaks in number occurred only in autumn and early winter. Numbers of A. sylvaticus were low and stable in early summer increasing rapidly in late summer and autumn and remaining high throughout winter before a sharp decline in spring. Numbers of A. flavicollis increased after the start of reproduction and continued to rise throughout summer and autumn. The period of major decline of this species was during early winter. Densities of A. sylvaticus and A. flavicollis were comparable with those cited in allopatric studies. Spring populations of both species consisted of cohorts first appearing in the late summer and autumn of the previous year. Few individuals present in spring survived the summer. Reproduction of A. flavicollis commenced four to six weeks before that of A. sylvaticus. Seasonal variation in mean weight of adult males and females also indicates that those changes, due to the acquisition of secondary sex characteristics and reproductive maturity, occur earlier in A. flavicollis than in A. sylvaticus. Data presented contain no evidence of interspecific competition and it is concluded that interspecific differences, chiefly asynchrony in reproduction and annual population cycles, contribute to their stable coexistence.