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A Reconnaissance Method for Small Mammal Abundance Assessment in Urban Environments


We propose a new reconnaissance method for mouse-sized mammal abundance estimation that does not involve animal capture. For survey purposes, we used plastic bottles without covers, which were baited and set out with free entry and exit for animals. Two patterns of setting out were tested: 5 and 10 m intervals on transects of 120 m in length. The total abundance of small mammals was estimated by the proportion of bottles in which baits were absent or eaten. These values were compared with data obtained in the same places by means of snap-trap lines or live-trap plots. We determined empirical coefficients for the conversion of the bottle attendance index into relative numbers (individuals per 100 trap nights) or community density (individuals per ha). It was shown that the method can be used in urban environments and combines quantitative estimation with low labour expenditures and high simplicity.

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The authors are grateful to the administration of the Botanical Garden of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences for permission to work in the arboretum. The authors are grateful to PhD Ivan Kshnyasev for useful advice on the statistical processing of the material and to Irina Tolkacheva for photo of traps.


This study was performed within the frameworks of state contract with the Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Ural Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences and partly supported by the Russian Foundation for Fundamental Investigations, grant no. 20-04-00164a.

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Correspondence to O. V. Tolkachev.

Ethics declarations

All sampling methods used in this study are in accordance with current ethical standards [40]. All field methods were approved by the Bioethics commission of the Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Ural Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (protocol #001/2020). It is important to note that snap trapping is not an essential part of the bottle-line method. In this study, such an approach was needed only to test and calibrate the methodology.

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Tolkachev, O.V., Malkova, E.A. & Maklakov, K.V. A Reconnaissance Method for Small Mammal Abundance Assessment in Urban Environments. Russ J Ecol 52, 329–339 (2021).

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  • mouse-sized mammals
  • abundance assessment
  • noninvasive method
  • snap trap
  • live trap