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Vole spatial distribution and dispersal in European organic and conventional farming systems

Jensen, Thomas Secher and Olsen, Kent (2010) Vole spatial distribution and dispersal in European organic and conventional farming systems. Poster at: The 90th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists, Laramie, Wyoming, USA, 11-15 of June 2010.

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North European landscapes are highly dominated by agriculture, where small biotopes, e.g. meadows, uncultivated grassland, hedge rows, field boundaries, surroundings of water ponds, only comprise a low percentage. In recent years organic farming has expanded in acreage due to customers increased awareness regarding pesticide and fertilizer use and biodiversity conservation. However, organic farming has changed from an extensive production with small fields, low mechanical impact and high crop diversity towards larger fields, intensive mechanical treatment, lower weed densities and lower field diversity. Still, organic farms could play an important, role in the agricultural landscape as refuges for some small mammal species.
We studied the responses of populations to habitat patches of different size and different surrounding management strategies (ecological and conventional farming). Studies were performed at two localities in Denmark, Kalø Estate in Eastern Jutland and the Bjerringbro area in Central Jutland. The sampling sites were represented by cultivated grassland habitat, small biotopes within cultivated fields and hedgerows between fields in rotation.
Small mammal species assemblages were low in numbers in cultural farmland, and, on a property basis, not significantly different between organic and conventional farms. Very few species and individuals were present in the field matrix, and the small biotopes were by far the most important source of species richness. Species density was positively correlated with the size of the habitat, and, generally, more voles were found in organic habitat patches than in conventional ones. More field voles were found in organic grassland and more bank voles (Myodes glareolus) in organic hedge rows than in conventional ones. Telemetry studies of field voles showed low rates of dispersal and low colonization rates of the more or less isolated small biotopes at the time of year with no vegetation cover in the surrounding fields. We found no significant correlations between distance to nearest stepping stones/dispersal corridors and small mammal densities or species composition. In agricultural areas landscape structure influences the small mammal species living in this fragmented habitat matrix. The value of organic farms in respect to small mammal biodiversity depends mainly upon the number and area of small biotopes, and only to a minor degree upon the management of the fields. This is presumably related to a more dense and diverse vegetation cover, due to a lack of pesticide and fertilizer treatment in the organically managed small biotopes.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Poster
Keywords:Home range, Field Vole, Microtus agrestis, Telemetry, Organic Farming
Subjects: Farming Systems
Environmental aspects
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF III (2005-2010) > REFUGIA - The role of Organic Farms as refugia for biodiversity
Deposited By: Jensen, Museum director Thomas Secher
ID Code:19461
Deposited On:11 Oct 2011 13:17
Last Modified:11 Oct 2011 13:17
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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