, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp 337-345

Dynamics of space use and male vigour amongst wood mice, Apodemus sylvaticus, in the cereal ecosystem

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Abstract

The spatial organisation of male and female wood mice, Apodemus sylvaticus, was investigated in a large-scale radio-tracking study on arable farmland near Oxford, United Kingdom, during the breeding season. Both sexes had significantly larger home ranges in the breeding season than at other times, and the breeding season home ranges of male (X = 1.44 ha) were significantly larger than those of females (X = 0.49 ha). Home range overlap was significantly greater between males, and between males and females, than it was between females. Overlap between males tended to be greatest in heavily utilised areas. Except during sexual consortship, there was minimal evidence of dynamic interaction among individuals. Home range sizes of breeding males varied widely, as did their body weights. There was no relationship between male body weight and home range size or any other movement parameter. However, males with the largest home ranges had the highest scores on all other movement parameters, indicating that they expended more energy in movement. These more ‘vigorous’ males had access to the home ranges of more females than did males with small home ranges.