Use of salt marshes by meadow voles
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- Howell, P.T. Estuaries (1984) 7: 165. doi:10.2307/1351771
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The behavioral adaptations of the meadow vole,Microtus pennsylvanicus, to tidal salt marshes were examined during a mark-recapture study and snap-trap survey of three tidal salt marshes and four inland sites. Voles were captured throughout the marsh profile in all months except February, and 60 to 70% of the marked population was considered resident to the marsh from June through December. Stomach analysis indicated that the stems of halophytes are the largest component of the marsh voles' diet. During the driest summer months seeds of the halophytes became an important alternate food. Upland voles showed no seasonal dietary alteration, and the pattern of seasonal changes in body weight differed between the two habitats. A body fat index used to measure general nutrition was found to vary seasonally but not between habitats. The selective cropping of only grass stems may result in increased formation of detritus and acceleration of nutrient turnover in the marsh-estuary ecosystem.