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Small mammal populations in relation to hedgerow structure in an arable landscape

Journal of Zoology

Abstract

The population ecology of small mammals in hedgerows in arable farmland in eastern England is described. Features of hedgerows of importance to individual species are examined. Some 97% of the total 3042 mammals captured were wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus, yellow-necked mouse Apodemus flavicollis, bank vole Clethrionomys glareolus and common shrew Sorer araneus. Small numbers of harvest mice Micromys minutus, field voles Microtus agrestis, pygmy shrews Sorer minutus and water shrews Neomys fodiens were also caught. Wood mouse, the most numerous species, showed a typical pattern of large numbers in autumn and winter, followed by a simultaneous decline over all hedges in early spring. Population changes were less clear in yellow-necked mouse and bank vole but the yellow-necked mouse was more scarce in the second year of study. Common shrews were must numerous in summer and declined rapidly in autumn. Hedgerow coppicing had a marked effect on yellow-necked mouse numbers but not on wood mouse. In an extensive survey of mammal numbers in relation to hedgerow features, ground cover was found to be the single largest factor influencing size of bank vole populations. Hedgerow condition (lack of gaps) was important to yellow-necked mice, which thrived only in well-established hedgerows. Wood mice appeared little influenced by the characteristics of the hedge. Common shrews were more abundant in hedgerows with adjacent permanent water.

Author(s): Kotzageorgis, GC; Mason, CF

Journal: Journal of Zoology

Year: 1997

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