Ecology and Conservation of Small Mammals: Exploring Biodiversity, Climate Resilience, and Ecosystem Dynamics through Small Mammal Monitoring and Research

A special issue of Life (ISSN 2075-1729). This special issue belongs to the section "Diversity and Ecology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2024) | Viewed by 4553

Special Issue Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CSO “TYTO – Association for the Management and Conservation of Biodiversity in Agricultural Ecosystems”, 41335 Larisa, Greece
Interests: wildlife ecology and biology; small mammals; raptor ecology and biology; biodiversity; multivariate statistics; agricultural ecosystems; avifauna; wildlife management

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Biology Department, Section of Animal Biology, University of Patras, Patras, Greece
Interests: recording and monitoring of the biodiversity of vertebrates, focusing on small mammals; protection and conservation of endemic, rare and threatened mammals of the Greek fauna; faunistic studies, based on diet analysis (owl pellets, fecal matter, etc.); study of phylogenetic relationships, with the use of chromosomal and other approaches; protection and sustainable management of protected areas of Greece

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Small mammals play critical roles in ecological systems, occupying diverse niches and contributing to ecosystem functioning. They are highly abundant in all ecosystems and assume multiple roles. For instance, they can serve as secondary consumers on plant communities to the extent of becoming pests in agriculture, they comprise a primary food source for a large range of predators, and they function as pathogen transmitters. Through long-term research of small mammal communities and the study of their diversity, abundance, community assembly and interactions, important insights can be generated with respect to ecological processes and mechanisms in nature. Small mammals constitute an ideal animal group to explore critical research questions, which include how they respond to climate change, how they react to land use changes and habitat transformation, and how they adapt to but also shape ecosystem processes. Addressing these questions can also shed light on how small mammals adjust their ecological and population dynamics, their community structure, intra and interspecific competition, in reaction to a continuously changing landscape and environment.

This Special Issue aims to broaden the understanding of small mammal ecology by approaching them as biodiversity indicators, factors and indicators of climate resilience in ecosystems, and essential links of ecosystem dynamics. We invite contributions that delve into these ecological aspects of small mammals, encompassing not only monitoring efforts but also broader ecological approaches.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  1. Biodiversity and community ecology of small mammals in different ecosystems, ranging from natural habitats to anthropogenic landscapes.
  2. Assessing the responses of small mammals to climate change, including shifts in distribution patterns, phenology, and population dynamics.
  3. Investigating the ecological impacts of small mammals as seed dispersers, pollinators, and predators in diverse ecological networks.
  4. Understanding the role of small mammals in shaping ecosystem processes, such as nutrient cycling, vegetation dynamics, and trophic interactions.
  5. Examining the effects of land use change and habitat fragmentation on small mammal communities and their ecological functions.
  6. Exploring the mechanisms underlying small mammal adaptation and resilience to environmental stressors, including both abiotic and biotic factors.
  7. Integrating technological advances, such as molecular techniques and remote sensing, in the study of small mammal ecology and conservation.

By encompassing these ecological dimensions, this Special Issue seeks to emphasize the significance of small mammals as indicators of ecosystem health, drivers of ecological processes, and potential targets for conservation strategies. We encourage researchers to contribute original research, review articles, and case studies that advance our understanding of the ecological complexities surrounding small mammal communities and their conservation in the face of ongoing environmental changes.

Dr. Vasileios A. Bontzorlos
Dr. George P. Mitsainas
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Life is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • small mammals
  • biodiversity, indicators
  • monitoring
  • assessment
  • communities

Published Papers (4 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

14 pages, 1851 KiB  
Article
Seasonal Changes in Nycthemeral Availability of Sympatric Temperate Mixed Forest Rodents: The Predators’ Perspective
by Remo Probst and Renate Probst
Life 2024, 14(1), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/life14010045 - 27 Dec 2023
Viewed by 885
Abstract
(1) Background: Bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) and Apodemus mice are of exceptional importance as prey for predators in temperate mixed forests. We hypothesized that overall prey availability would increase linearly with prey frequency, and that the daylight hours, which are considered particularly [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) and Apodemus mice are of exceptional importance as prey for predators in temperate mixed forests. We hypothesized that overall prey availability would increase linearly with prey frequency, and that the daylight hours, which are considered particularly dangerous, would be used only during seasonal rodent population peaks and only in the twilight hours. (2) Methods: We conducted a two-year camera-trapping study in an inner alpine mixed forest and collected 19,138 1 min videos in 215 camera-trap nights. Prey availability was defined as the pseudo-replication-limited maximum number of the respective rodent taxon per 30 min period, summed per season. (3) Results: Overall prey availability increased with frequency, i.e., the maximum number of rodent individuals per camera-trap night. Seasonally, Apodemus mice were particularly available to predators in the summer and bank voles in the autumn after a tree mast year. In both cases, this was accompanied by a significant increase in diurnal availability. During the population peak of Apodemus mice, the nocturnal availability of bank voles decreased without a concurrent increase in absolute diurnal availability, even though the significant relative shift to diurnal activity superficially suggested this. Bank voles were active throughout the day, while Apodemus mice were nocturnal and (rarely) crepuscular. (4) Conclusions: Availability of rodents to predators, especially during daylight hours, was mainly dependent on their tree mast-induced increased frequencies. Bank voles likewise responded strongly to interspecific competition with the larger and aggressive Apodemus mice, which negatively affected availability to predators. At our seasonal level of evaluation, we conclude that nycthemeral availability of forest-dwelling rodents to generalist predators of temperate mixed forests is predominantly driven by bottom-up mechanisms. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

16 pages, 1734 KiB  
Article
Controlling Effects of Nanocomposite Sterilant ND-1 on the Growth of Wild Populations of Midday Gerbil (Meriones meridianus)
by Fan Bu, Xin Li, Junyuan Bai, Shanshan Sun, Haiwen Yan, Haoting Zhang, Yongling Jin, Linlin Li, Rong Zhang, Zhenghaoni Shang, Shuai Yuan, Xiaodong Wu and Heping Fu
Life 2023, 13(12), 2280; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13122280 - 29 Nov 2023
Viewed by 722
Abstract
Grassland is not only an important part of the terrestrial ecosystem with multiple ecological functions, but also an important base for Chinese herdsmen to produce and live. However, the occurrence and spread of rodent infestation reduces the biodiversity and productivity of grassland ecosystems. [...] Read more.
Grassland is not only an important part of the terrestrial ecosystem with multiple ecological functions, but also an important base for Chinese herdsmen to produce and live. However, the occurrence and spread of rodent infestation reduces the biodiversity and productivity of grassland ecosystems. It also severely threatens human life, health, and biosecurity through disease transmission. In this study, we explored the ability of the nanocomposite sterilant ND-1 to control grassland rodent populations. Semi-closed experimental and control plots were established in the desert area of Alashan, Inner Mongolia, China. In spring 2018, the nanocomposite sterile ND-1 (Nongda-1) was introduced once, and the control effect of ND-1 on the growth of the wild population of midday gerbils was measured for two years. We show that ND-1 significantly reduced the population of midday gerbils in the experimental area, with a negative population growth rate. In addition, in the second year, the ratio of female midday gerbils to sub-adults in the experimental area was significantly lower than that in the control area, which resulted in a significant difference in the sex ratio of midday gerbils. There were significantly fewer females than males, and the population growth of midday gerbils in the experimental area was significantly inhibited. ND-1 had no significant effect on the home range of midday gerbils, and sterile individuals continued to occupy the home range and consume resources. Therefore, ND-1 reduced the number of female midday gerbils during the breeding period and the sex ratio and population density and altered the age structure of the wild population. Additionally, competition between sterile and normal individuals had a significant control effect on the growth of wild populations. Our studies demonstrate the significance of ND-1 in the sustainable control of grassland rodent pests, with the potential for limiting grassland rodent damage in the future. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

14 pages, 2500 KiB  
Article
Shrew Communities in Mediterranean Agro-Ecosystems of Central Greece: Associations with Crop Types, Land Uses, and Soil Parameters
by Vasileios Bontzorlos
Life 2023, 13(12), 2248; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13122248 - 23 Nov 2023
Viewed by 678
Abstract
Shrew communities play a crucial role in a diverse range of natural, urban, and agricultural ecosystems. We used Barn owl diet analysis as the ideal proxy to assess small-mammal distribution patterns on large spatial scales. More than 10,000 pellets were analyzed from Thessaly, [...] Read more.
Shrew communities play a crucial role in a diverse range of natural, urban, and agricultural ecosystems. We used Barn owl diet analysis as the ideal proxy to assess small-mammal distribution patterns on large spatial scales. More than 10,000 pellets were analyzed from Thessaly, the largest agricultural prefecture located in central Greece. A total of more than 29,000 prey items were identified, one of the largest datasets used in similar analyses in Europe. Three discrete shrew species were present in Thessaly agricultural plains, central Greece (Güldenstädt’s shrew Crocidura gueldenstaedtii, Bi-coloured shrew Crocidura leucodon, and Pygmy white-toothed shrew Suncus etruscus), which comprised a total of 7452 shrews, representing 25.64% of the total small-mammals’ dataset. C. gueldenstaedtii and S. etruscus demonstrated strong associations with heavy argillaceous-clay soils and Vertisol soil types, whereas S. etruscus was also associated with non-irrigated land and non-intensive cultivated plots. C. leucodon demonstrated no significant associations to any environmental gradient and demonstrated habitat plasticity, most possibly shaped by existing resources and competition. Our study highlights the important insights gained from Barn owl diet analysis in respect of small-mammal assemblages on broad geographical scales, and the inclusion of soil parameters as drivers of habitat suitability and distribution patterns for small-mammal responses. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

15 pages, 4561 KiB  
Article
Year-Round Bat Activity and Species Richness Near Temporary Ponds in the Mediterranean Region
by Ioanna Salvarina, Panagiotis Georgiakakis, Artemis Kafkaletou Diez, Triantafyllia-Maria Perivolioti, Ioanna Vassilaki and Matina Kalcounis-Rueppell
Life 2023, 13(7), 1495; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13071495 - 1 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1258
Abstract
Mediterranean temporary ponds are recognized as conservation priority habitats that face anthropogenic threats and are important habitats for a number of aquatic and terrestrial animals and plants. Bats are a diverse group of animals that use ponds for drinking and feeding on emerging [...] Read more.
Mediterranean temporary ponds are recognized as conservation priority habitats that face anthropogenic threats and are important habitats for a number of aquatic and terrestrial animals and plants. Bats are a diverse group of animals that use ponds for drinking and feeding on emerging aquatic insects and terrestrial insects in the riparian zone. We investigated the importance of temporary ponds for bats in Greece by acoustically sampling bat community structures and activity at temporary ponds throughout the year. We sampled monthly, from 3 to 13 months in 2019–2020, at sites at the pond edge and approximately 150–300 m away from the edge, at four temporary ponds in northern and southern Greece. Our results confirm the importance of temporary ponds for bats as activity was recorded year-round and was high in all but the winter months. In general, the distance to the edge of the pond and the presence of water in the pond explained bat activity together with air temperature. Importantly, whether dry or not, all ponds supported bat activity, independent of their particular characteristics. This study highlights the urgent need for the conservation of temporary ponds, especially in areas with limited water availability. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop