Influence of habitat characteristics on small mammals in a Mexican high-altitude grassland

Authors

  • J. Lopez-Paniagua,

    1. Laboratorio de Conservation, Centro de Ecología, Universidad National Autónoma de México, Apartado Postal 70–275, Mexico 04510, D.F.
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  • F. J. Romero,

    1. Laboratorio de Conservation, Centro de Ecología, Universidad National Autónoma de México, Apartado Postal 70–275, Mexico 04510, D.F.
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  • J. L. Gomez,

    1. Laboratorio de Conservation, Centro de Ecología, Universidad National Autónoma de México, Apartado Postal 70–275, Mexico 04510, D.F.
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  • J. C. Lopez,

    1. Laboratorio de Conservation, Centro de Ecología, Universidad National Autónoma de México, Apartado Postal 70–275, Mexico 04510, D.F.
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  • J. E. FA

    1. Laboratorio de Conservation, Centro de Ecología, Universidad National Autónoma de México, Apartado Postal 70–275, Mexico 04510, D.F.
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    • *Institute of Mediterranean Ecology, P.O. Box 303, Gibraltar


Abstract

Small mammals in a high-altitude grassland area close to Mexico City were studied. Populations of 10 species were censused using live traps in 48 sample quadrats. Within each quadrat, vegetation characterization, including complete floristic listings, cover values for species and layers and values of habitat modification, were assessed. Habitats were described according to plant communities identified using ordination and classification methods. Nine different plant communities were obtained. Densities and abundance of all small mammal species were calculated for each of the habitats classified. Peromyscus alsloni was the most abundant species in all habitats, reaching maximum densities of 55 ha−1 in pine forest with dense ground and herb layer. Peromyscus melanotis also occurred in all habitats but at lower densities (maximum 29 ha−1). Reithrodontomys megalotis was found in all habitats except in tall dense grassland. Densities for this species were generally low (1-9 ha−1) but reached 19 ha−1 in short dense grassland. All other species were largely absent from 4–8 habitats and showed very low densities (0.75–4 ha−1). The densities of the more abundant species were largely correlated with more open habitats and higher indices of habitat modification. Lower altitude grassland habitats have a greater abundance of small mammals and a higher species richness than the medium and higher altitude, physiognomically more complex habitats. Species richness was highest in tall pine-alder forest with a species-rich, dense herb layer and lowest in pine forest with dense ground and herb layers. Species richness was positively correlated with overall small mammal density.

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