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Long-term responses in population dynamics and diversity of small mammals in riparian and upland habitats within an agricultural landscape

Acta Theriologica


Riparian zones in agricultural landscapes provide linear non-crop habitats for a variety of plant and mammal species, and hence are an important component of biodiversity. To date, variable responses of abundance, species richness, and species diversity of small mammals have been recorded in riparian and upland habitats. To address this variability, we provide a detailed analysis of seasonal changes in abundance and diversity of terrestrial small-mammal communities over a 7-year period within an agricultural landscape in south-central British Columbia, Canada. We tested the hypotheses (H) that abundance, species richness, and species diversity of communities of small mammals (H-1), and demographic parameters of reproduction, recruitment, and survival of the major species: deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) and montane vole (Microtus montanus) (H-2), would be higher in riparian than upland habitats. Mean total abundance of small mammals was higher in summer and winter, and species richness higher in summer, in riparian than hedgerow habitats. Winter population data supported the total and species abundance patterns for small mammals, but species richness was similar, and diversity lower, in riparian than hedgerow sites during winter periods. Deer mice were the dominant species in terms of abundance and reproductive output for pregnancies and recruitment, but not survival, in riparian sites. Montane voles were similar in abundance and demographic parameters in the two habitats. House mice (Mus musculus) preferred hedgerows and wandering shrews (Sorex vagrans) riparian sites. Demographic parameters for deer mice and montane voles indicated that both riparian and hedgerow sites were source rather than sink habitats, and likely contribute to maintenance of mammal diversity in agricultural landscapes.

Author(s): Sullivan, TP; Sullivan, DS; Sullivan, JHR

Journal: Acta Theriologica

Year: 2014