Abundance thresholds and the underlying ecological processes: field voles Microtus agrestis in a fragmented landscape

A. R. Renwick, X. Lambin

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Field voles (Microtus agrestis) were trapped in 14 field margins and their behavioural and demographic parameters measured. Strong support was found for thresholds in margin width below which vole abundance was extremely low. Narrow margins were male biased with individuals moving greater distances and a large proportion of males behaved as transient individuals. However, no effect was observed on the age structure or survival of the population. Individuals were able to compensate for the lack of habitat through alterations in their behaviour sufficiently to maintain their survival. Within intensive agro-ecosystems, narrow strips between crops are important links for voles between wider margins and, if available, other more suitable habitats. Maintenance of narrow margins, along with larger areas of suitable habitat, is therefore effective in farmed landscapes for sustaining populations of specialist species where they show sufficient flexibility. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-369
Number of pages6
JournalAgriculture Ecosystems & Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • agri-environment schemes
  • field margins
  • habitat loss
  • survival
  • transience
  • habitat fragmentation
  • agricultural intensification
  • extinction thresholds
  • population-dynamics
  • species responses
  • marked animals
  • small mammals
  • program mark
  • biodiversity

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