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Open AccessArticle

Map-A-Mole: Greenspace Area Influences the Presence and Abundance of the European Mole Talpa europaea in Urban Habitats

1
People and Wildlife Research Group, School of Biological Sciences, Harborne Building, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, Berkshire RG6 6AS, UK
2
Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso, Campus Universitário de Rondonópolis–UFMT, Rodovia Rondonópolis/Guiratinga, Rondonópolis 78736-900, MT, Brazil
3
School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(6), 1097; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10061097
Received: 7 June 2020 / Revised: 20 June 2020 / Accepted: 22 June 2020 / Published: 25 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anthropogenic Impacts on Urban Mammals)
The European mole is a burrowing mammal which is widely distributed across Britain and much of continental Europe. Its presence is readily confirmed by the presence of molehills, which contain the spoil heaps left behind as the mole digs its underground tunnels. Despite being easy to record, there are very few studies of moles in an urban environment. We asked how area of greenspace (largely parks, recreation areas, nature reserves and playing fields), distance to the nearest patch, human disturbance, how long the green patch had been isolated for, and degree of urban construction around the patch affected mole presence and abundance. We found that patch size affected mole presence, with a minimum greenspace of approximately 10 ha required. Where moles were found, larger patches had more signs of moles and surprisingly, mole abundance was also associated with the degree of urban construction around the greenspace. This result shows how urban planning can affect the presence of unusual species, such as the European mole.
The European mole Talpa europaea is common across much of Britain. It has a unique fossorial lifestyle, and evidence of its presence is readily identified through the presence of characteristic molehills. Although molehills are often a common sight in urban greenspaces, moles are remarkably understudied, with very few studies to date exploring the urban ecology of moles. Here, we investigate if factors such as greenspace (largely urban parks and playing fields) area, intensity of management, distance to nearest patch, amount of time the patch had been isolated from other green patches, and the amount of urbanization (constructed surfaces) surrounding the patch, influence the distribution and abundance of urban moles. Mole signs (hills and surface runs) were counted in all discrete urban greenspaces (excluding domestic gardens and one private golf course) within an 89.5 km2 area in the UK town of Reading. We found that 17 out of 59 surveyed sites contained moles, with their presence being recorded in greenspaces with a minimum patch area of approximately 0.1 km2 (10 ha). Where present, the abundance of mole territories in the greenspaces was associated with both the area of greenspace and degree of urbanization within 150 m of the patch boundary. While the former was not surprising, the latter outcome may be a consequence of sites with an increased risk of flooding being home to fewer moles, and the surrounding area is also less likely to be built upon. This case study highlights how choices made in designing urban green infrastructure will determine which species survive in urban areas long into the future. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban ecology; urban planning; urban greening; urban biodiversity; mammal; habitat management; species area relationships urban ecology; urban planning; urban greening; urban biodiversity; mammal; habitat management; species area relationships
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Fellowes, M.D.; Acquaah-Harrison, K.; Angeoletto, F.; Santos, J.W.; da Silva Leandro, D.; Rocha, E.A.; Pirie, T.J.; Thomas, R.L. Map-A-Mole: Greenspace Area Influences the Presence and Abundance of the European Mole Talpa europaea in Urban Habitats. Animals 2020, 10, 1097.

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