Behavioural and population responses of ground-dwelling rodents to forest edges.


Forest edges can affect the behaviour, physiology and demography of small mammals. We tested whether there was a response in abundance, distribution, personality selection or foraging behaviour of ground-dwelling rodents to a forest-meadow edge in two study areas in Northern Italy over a 1-year period. We used capture-mark-recapture to evaluate species distribution, abundance, survival and personality, while Giving-up Density was used to test their foraging behaviour and the cost associated to it. All tests were carried out on the forest edge and at 50 and 100 m from the edge along three parallel transects 90 m long. We detected two species in both areas: Apodemus sylvaticus and Myodes glareolus. We found a neutral effect of the edge on species number, survival and on individual’s personality (activity/exploration tendency). Bank voles occurred more along the edge and both taxa took more seeds from trays along the edge. The hypothesis of edge avoidance was not confirmed in any of the variables examined. Our study supports evidence that edge effects can be species-specific and that populations should be studied with a multiple test approach to investigate different eco-ethological responses to the edge when trying to reveal the functioning of ecotonal systems.
Mazzamuto, M. V.; Wauters, L. A.; Preatoni, D.; Martinoli, A.
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