Arable habitat use by wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus). 1. Macrohabitat

Authors

  • I. A. Todd,

    Corresponding author
    1. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, U.K.
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  • T. E. Tew,

    1. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, U.K.
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    • Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield AL10 9AB, U.K.

  • D. W. Macdonald

    1. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, U.K.
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    • JNCC, Monkstone House, City Road, Peterborough PE1 1YJ, U.K.


*All correspondence to: D. W. Macdonald, Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, U.K. E-mail: david.macdonald@zoo.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

Wood mice Apodemus sylvaticus were radio-tracked in an area covering three cereal fields, which was notionally divided into 5×5 m squares; each of these squares was classified to one of four habitat types (hedgerow, wheat, barley and oil-seed rape). From a sample of 79 radio-tracked wood mice, yielding 8500 fixes, we defined home-range boundaries and estimated for two seasons: (a) the extent to which each habitat was present in each individual's home range relative to its overall availability in the surrounding landscape; (b) the extent to which each habitat was used by the mice relative to its abundance within a home range. Hedgerow ranked highest in preference (as distinct from use) for all comparisons made in both winter and summer. In winter, home ranges contained significantly more hedgerow than barley and wheat, and significantly more rape than wheat. Animals also used the habitats within their home ranges non-randomly, with a significant preference for hedgerow. In summer, home ranges contained significantly less rape than other habitats. Habitats within home ranges were used at random. Seasonal patterns in habitat use appeared to be largely a response to seasonal disturbance and the availability of cover in the fields.

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