Habitat preferences of the bank voleMyodes glareolus in a Mediterranean mountain range
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The bank voleMyodes glareolus Schreber, 1780 is a widely distributed rodent in Europe, being numerically dominant in small mammal communities living in temperate woodlands. However, it becomes scarce in southern Europe (Mediterranean area) where it reaches the southernmost limit of its distribution range. We studied the habitat preferences of bank voles in 9 plots in a transitional area between Mediterranean and Eurosiberian regions within a Mediterranean mountain. During the study period we captured 1919 small mammals of 9 species, including 287 bank voles (14.95%). Mean density ranged from zero individuals per plot (1.1 ha) at the boreo-subalpine scrubland to 10.27 ± 2.84 (SE) at a Mediterranean river woodland. Statistical path analysis was used to investigate relationships between mean bank vole density and climate and vegetation structure measured within plots. The variables selected by the structural equation model were those related to forest structure, like tree cover and height, dead vegetation, moss, and rock cover. Habitat moisture was also important (microclimatic conditions). Mean climate conditions (and elevation) did not have any significant effect on mean bank vole density, and no significant association with understorey vegetation (eg shrub and herbaceous cover) was observed. Our results pointed out that bank voles were habitat specialists in our study area, being more abundant and frequent in moist woodlands, and rare or absent in shrublands and grasslands.
Key wordsMyodes glareolus density habitat live trapping Mediterranean mountain vegetation structure
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