Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Living on the edge of agriculture: Home range and movement patterns of the field vole Microtus agrestis in a fragmented agro-ecosystem (#423)

Christina Vedel-Smith 1 , Kent Olsen 1 , Tine Sussie Hansen , Thomas Secher Jensen 1
  1. Natural History Museum, Aarhus, Aarhus C, Denmark

Species living in uncultivated areas of agro-ecosystems live in a mosaic landscape with only fragments of suitable habitat available to them. These fragments differ in size, shape, diversity and resource values. Larger fragments are often far between and only occasionally connected through corridors. For small mammals such as the field vole (Microtus agrestis), distance between habitat fragments may pose barriers and as distance increases the probability of successful crossing become less likely. During the period 2008-2011, field voles were tracked by radio telemetry in a Danish agro-ecosystem. We analysed home ranges with autocorrelated Kernel density estimation (AKDE) to find an approximation of the range distribution, and applied the synoptic model using 10 resource covariates (ecological, temporal and between-animal-interaction) to find the best home range model fit. AKDE uses the autocorrelation inherited in any animal movement dataset thereby avoiding the crippling effect sub-sampling to independence can have. The synoptic model has been shown to be effective for calculating home ranges constrained by linear habitat features as those found in the agro-ecosystem. We compare home ranges between voles of both sexes in habitat fragments of different size and shape, and during different seasons. We find that voles would primarily stay inside habitat fragments; i.e. small habitats result in small home ranges. We expect the presence of other individuals to influence movement patterns in accordance with the individual’s reproductive state and time of year (available food resources). Furthermore, we expect home ranges to change as unoccupied spaces occurs when neighbouring voles are predated.