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Habitat associations of small mammals in farmed landscapes: implications for agri-environmental schemes

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The small mammal community in 21 localities of north-western Spain was evaluated in the light of land use composition. The two geomorphologic categories characterising the study area, the main use of the land (arable/pastoral) and main crop types of each sampling locality were used as potential predictors of the relative abundance of five common small mammal species. The Common vole, Microtus arvalis showed a weak relationship with land uses, probably due to the recent colonisation process this species experienced in the study area. The relative abundance of the Algerian mouse, Mus spretus and the Lusitanian pine vole, Microtus lusitanicus was best explained by models built at the broadest regional scale, the former being more abundant in the eastern area, the latter in the western area. The Greater white-toothed shrew, Crocidura russula showed a positive relationship with grassland coverage, whilst the Wood mouse, Apodemus sylvaticus benefited from increasing proportions of fallow lands within the landscape. These two species are then expected to respond positively to those agri-environmental schemes including the increase of fallows and grassy vegetation within the arable landscape (EU recommendations). However, further efforts are needed to predict, at least qualitatively, the response of other small mammal species to the changing farmed landscape. This is especially true for two endemic species occurring at this area: the Cabrera vole, Microtus cabrerae and the Lusitanian pine vole, and for which this kind of information is almost absent.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Applied Biology, Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC, Avda María Luisa s/n., Pabellón del Perú, 41013 Sevilla, Spain; 2: Departament of Animal Biology, Universidad de Salamanca, Campus Miguel de Unamuno, edificio de Farmacia, 37071 Salamanca, Spain


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