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Article

Mow the Grass at the Mouse’s Peril: Diversity of Small Mammals in Commercial Fruit Farms

Nature Research Centre, Akademijos 2, LT 08412 Vilnius, Lithuania
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Animals 2019, 9(6), 334; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060334
Received: 22 April 2019 / Revised: 27 May 2019 / Accepted: 5 June 2019 / Published: 8 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Ecology and Conservation)
For the first time in the Baltic countries, small mammal communities were evaluated in commercial orchards and berry plantations to test for the influence of crop type and intensity of agricultural practices. Out of ten species registered in the fruit farms, the most dominant were common vole and striped field mouse, confirming the spread of the latter species in the country. Small mammal diversity and abundance were not dependent on crop type but decreased in line with the intensity of agricultural practices, not being found in the most intensively cultivated farms. Unexpectedly, small mammal diversity in apple orchards exceeded the diversities found in most types of forests and was significantly higher than in crop fields.
Small mammals are not only pests but also an important part of agricultural ecosystems. The common vole is a reference species for risk assessment of plant protection products in the European Union, but no data about the suitability of the species in the Baltic countries are present so far. Using the snap-trap line method, we evaluated species composition, abundance, and diversity of small mammal communities in commercial orchards and berry plantations in Lithuania, testing the predictions that (i) compared with other habitats, small mammal diversity in fruit farms is low, and (ii) the common vole is the dominant species. The diversity of small mammals was compared with control habitats and the results of investigations in other habitats. Out of ten small mammal species registered, the most dominant were common vole and striped field mouse. Small mammal diversity and abundance increased in autumn and decreased in line with the intensity of agricultural practices but were not dependent on crop type. In the most intensively cultivated fruit farms, small mammals were not found. The diversity of small mammal communities in fruit farms was significantly higher than in crop fields and exceeded the diversities found in most types of forests except those in rapid succession. View Full-Text
Keywords: small mammals; commercial fruit farms; diversity; dominance; relative abundance; agricultural practices small mammals; commercial fruit farms; diversity; dominance; relative abundance; agricultural practices
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MDPI and ACS Style

Balčiauskas, L.; Balčiauskienė, L.; Stirkė, V. Mow the Grass at the Mouse’s Peril: Diversity of Small Mammals in Commercial Fruit Farms. Animals 2019, 9, 334. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060334

AMA Style

Balčiauskas L, Balčiauskienė L, Stirkė V. Mow the Grass at the Mouse’s Peril: Diversity of Small Mammals in Commercial Fruit Farms. Animals. 2019; 9(6):334. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060334

Chicago/Turabian Style

Balčiauskas, Linas, Laima Balčiauskienė, and Vitalijus Stirkė. 2019. "Mow the Grass at the Mouse’s Peril: Diversity of Small Mammals in Commercial Fruit Farms" Animals 9, no. 6: 334. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060334

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