The diet of field voles Microtus agrestis at low population density in upland Britain Authors
Received: 13 October 2003 Accepted: 20 January 2005 DOI:
Cite this article as: Wheeler, P. Acta Theriol (2005) 50: 483. doi:10.1007/BF03192641 Abstract
Studies on field voles
Microtus agrestis Linnaeus, 1758 in lowland grasslands have shown them to be unselective grazers. The diet of the field vole in upland Britain was investigated using feeding trials with four of the dominant British upland monocots, Molinia caerulea, Nardus stricta, Deschampsia flexuosa and Eriophorum vaginatum. The suitability of faecal analysis was assessed and then used to analyse the diet of wild voles from faecal samples. Percentages of plant species in the faeces were compared to percentages on the ground in sites dominated by Molinia caerulea, Eriophorum vaginatum, Nardus stricta and Calluna vulgaris. Significant preferences for the grass Deschampsia flexuosa were observed in feeding trials and in the wild while the sedge Eriophorum vaginatum was avoided in both. There was no clear preference for Molinia caerulea and Nardus stricta. Preference for plant species was related to palatability and nutrient content. The low nutrient conditions in British uplands mean that voles that live in these environments must be selective feeders to maximise nutrient intake. Key words Microtus agrestis diet selection faecal analysis cafeteria tests Associate Editors were Leszek Rychlik and Magdalena Niedzialkowska. Download to read the full article text References
Aebischer N. J., Robertson P. A. and Kenward R. E. 1993. Compositional analysis of habitat use from animal radio-tracking data. Ecology 74: 1313–1325.
Aitchison J. 1986. The statistical analysis of compositional data. Chapman and Hall, New York: 1–416.
Chadwick M. J. 1960.
L. Journal of Ecology 48: 255–267.
Chitty D., Pimentel D. and Krebs C. J. 1968. Food supply of overwintered voles. Journal of Animal Ecology 37: 113–120.
Dyczkowski J. and Yalden D. W. 1998. An estimate of the impact of predators on the British field vole (
) population. Mammal Review 28: 165–184.
Evans D. M. 1973. Seasonal variations in the body composition and nutrition of the vole
. Journal of Animal Ecology 42: 1–18.
Faber J. and Ma W. 1986. Observations on seasonal dynamics in diet consumption of the field vole
Microtus agrestis with some methodological remarks. Acta Theriologica 31: 479–490.
Ferns P. N. 1979. Growth, reproduction and residency in a declining population of
. Journal of Animal Ecology 48: 739–758.
Hansson L. 1970. Methods of morphological diet micro-analysis in small rodents. Oikos 21: 255–266.
Hansson L. 1971. Habitat, food and population dynamics of the field vole
Microtus agrestis in south Sweden. Viltrevy 8: 267–378.
Harris S., Morris P., Wray S. and Yalden D. 1995. A review of British mammals: Population estimates and conservation status of British mammals other than cetaceans. JNCC, Peterborough: 1–216.
Hjalten J., Danell K. and Ericson L. 1996. Food selection by two vole species in relation to plant growth strategies and plant chemistry. Oikos 76: 181–190.
Kirkham F. W. 2001. Nitrogen uptake and nutrient limitation in six hill moorland species in relation to atmospheric nitrogen deposition in England and Wales. Journal of Ecology 89: 1041–1053.
Krebs J. R. and Davies N. B. 1993. An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology. Blackwell Science, Oxford: 1–420.
Magurran A. 1988. Ecological Diversity and its Measurement. Croom Helm, London: 1–179.
Manly B. F. J., Macdonald L. L., Thomas D. L., McDonald T. L. and Erickson W. P. 2002. Resource selection by animals: Statistical design and analysis for field studies. Kluwer Academic, London: 1–221.
Phillipson J., Sarrazincomans M. and Stomatopoulos C. 1983. Food-consumption by
Microtus agrestis and the unsuitability of fecal analysis for the determination of food preference. Acta Theriologica 28: 397–416.
Ranson R. M. 1934. The field vole (
) as a laboratory animal. Journal of Animal Ecology 3: 70–76.
Scurfield G. 1954.
(L.) Trin. Journal of Ecology 42: 225–233.
Turchin P. and Batzli O. G. 2001. Availability of food and the population dynamics of arvicoline rodents. Ecology 82: 1521–1534.
Wheeler P. 2002. The distribution of mammals across the upland landscape. PhD thesis, University of Manchester, Manchester: 1–250.
Williams O. 1962. A technique for studying microtine food habits. Journal of Mammalogy 43: 365–368.
CrossRef Copyright information
© Mammal Research Institute, Bialowieza, Poland 2005