Factors predicting summer nest construction of Muscardinus avellanarius in deciduous woodland edges in Slovakia
Forest edges with diverse vegetation are an important feature of habitat preference for the hazel dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius. Therefore, this study was conducted to determine the factors predicting summer nest construction in deciduous woodland edges in Slovakia. At the same time, nest types, dimensions of nests and nest-site preference in shrubs and young trees were analysed. A total of 178 summer nests were found over the years 2010–2013 on the branches of several plant species, but mainly on Prunus spinosa, Rubus fruticosus and Carpinus betulus. The principle component analysis (PCA) in this study revealed that several factors were significant for the construction of nests in shrubby vegetation. The occurrence of four nest types (mixed, layered, foliar and grassy) with relatively large dimensions was confirmed. Botanical analysis of the leaf material in the nests confirmed that ten different plant species were incorporated into the nests. Moreover, a positive correlation was shown between the distance of the nest from the ground and from the top of the plant and the plant height. This study suggests that this micro-habitat may play an important role for suitable nesting of the hazel dormouse, as stated by several authors from the different countries and regions of its large distributional range. At the same time, data on the presence or absence of summer nests in the monitored habitat aid in the detection of species.
Key wordsnest dimensions hazel dormouse woodland edges shrubs Slovakia
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I would like to thank Mr. David McLean for the revision of the English language of the manuscript and professor Dr. Maurizio Sar`a for valuable comments on the manuscript.
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