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Abundance and diversity of small mammals in response to various linear habitats in semi-arid agricultural landscapes

Journal of Arid Environments

Abstract

We investigated the influence of linear habitats, three types of hedgerows and two types of field margins, on the small mammal community within a semi-arid agricultural landscape in south-central British Columbia, Canada. We examined whether abundance, species richness, and species diversity of small mammals in tree fruit orchards differed from linear, edge habitats along orchard margins. Our five edges spanned grassy to wooded habitats. Linear habitats were intensively sampled for vascular plants in 2003 and small mammal communities from 2003 to 2007. Vegetation and total abundance of small mammal species among three types of hedgerows were similar and population changes followed those within nearby apple orchards. Species richness and diversity of small mammals, however, were significantly higher in hedgerows than orchards. Fewer mammals occupied hedgerows with high volumes of herb and shrub biomass, but richness and diversity of mammals did increase with shrub volume. All seven species of small mammals were represented in the hedgerow communities, including two species at risk: the Great Basin pocket mouse Perognathus parvus and the western harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis). Two types of field margins (orchard-sagebrush and orchard-old field) along fencerows provided habitat for P. parvus. Field margins managed for herbaceous plant species along fencerows and other such linear configurations provided habitat for R. megalotis. Linear non-crop habitats should maintain the overall small mammal community, as well as the two species at risk, within this semi-arid agricultural landscape. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author(s): Sullivan, TP; Sullivan, DS; Thistlewood, HMA

Journal: Journal of Arid Environments

Year: 2012

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