Estimating weasel Mustela nivalis abundance from tunnel tracking indices at fluctuating field vole Microtus agrestis density

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Quantifying the abundance of small mustelids is important both for conservation purposes and for our understanding of ecosystem processes. Footprint tunnel tracking is one of the techniques now used to index the relative abundance of small mammals; however, there have been few or no previous attempts to calibrate indices of mustelid abundance derived from footprint tunnel tracking. Weasel Mustela nivalis abundance was assessed by footprint tunnel tracking and simultaneous live-trapping, either capture-mark-recapture or removal, in six sites in northern England from April 1998 to February 2000. The number of tunnels with weasel footprints was tightly related to the number of weasels live-trapped, although, as expected, the relationship varied,with field vole Microtus agrestis density and season. Temperature had only a weak effect in the calibration. The same number of tunnels with weasel footprints was equivalent to greater weasel abundance at high vole density than at low vole density. Similarly, weasel abundance was greater for the same number of tunnels with weasel footprints in summer and autumn than in winter and spring. In conclusion, it is important to correct for variation in vole density when using activity indices such as footprint tunnel tracking to sample weasel abundance, otherwise spurious patterns may emerge from the use of such index data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-287
Number of pages9
JournalWildlife Biology
Volume8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2002

Keywords

  • density
  • footprint tracking indices
  • live trapping
  • Mustela nivalis
  • northern England
  • population cycles
  • specialist predators
  • weasel
  • rats rattus-rattus
  • New-Zealand
  • cyclic dynamics
  • small mammals
  • home-range
  • population
  • predation
  • erminea
  • stoats
  • forest

Cite this

@article{fd895cb89b5d48b9b5a81646c4f58b7d,
title = "Estimating weasel Mustela nivalis abundance from tunnel tracking indices at fluctuating field vole Microtus agrestis density",
abstract = "Quantifying the abundance of small mustelids is important both for conservation purposes and for our understanding of ecosystem processes. Footprint tunnel tracking is one of the techniques now used to index the relative abundance of small mammals; however, there have been few or no previous attempts to calibrate indices of mustelid abundance derived from footprint tunnel tracking. Weasel Mustela nivalis abundance was assessed by footprint tunnel tracking and simultaneous live-trapping, either capture-mark-recapture or removal, in six sites in northern England from April 1998 to February 2000. The number of tunnels with weasel footprints was tightly related to the number of weasels live-trapped, although, as expected, the relationship varied,with field vole Microtus agrestis density and season. Temperature had only a weak effect in the calibration. The same number of tunnels with weasel footprints was equivalent to greater weasel abundance at high vole density than at low vole density. Similarly, weasel abundance was greater for the same number of tunnels with weasel footprints in summer and autumn than in winter and spring. In conclusion, it is important to correct for variation in vole density when using activity indices such as footprint tunnel tracking to sample weasel abundance, otherwise spurious patterns may emerge from the use of such index data.",
keywords = "density, footprint tracking indices, live trapping, Mustela nivalis, northern England, population cycles, specialist predators, weasel, rats rattus-rattus, New-Zealand, cyclic dynamics, small mammals, home-range, population, predation, erminea, stoats, forest",
author = "Graham, {I M}",
year = "2002",
month = "12",
language = "English",
volume = "8",
pages = "279--287",
journal = "Wildlife Biology",
issn = "0909-6396",
publisher = "Nordic Council for Wildlife Research",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Estimating weasel Mustela nivalis abundance from tunnel tracking indices at fluctuating field vole Microtus agrestis density

AU - Graham, I M

PY - 2002/12

Y1 - 2002/12

N2 - Quantifying the abundance of small mustelids is important both for conservation purposes and for our understanding of ecosystem processes. Footprint tunnel tracking is one of the techniques now used to index the relative abundance of small mammals; however, there have been few or no previous attempts to calibrate indices of mustelid abundance derived from footprint tunnel tracking. Weasel Mustela nivalis abundance was assessed by footprint tunnel tracking and simultaneous live-trapping, either capture-mark-recapture or removal, in six sites in northern England from April 1998 to February 2000. The number of tunnels with weasel footprints was tightly related to the number of weasels live-trapped, although, as expected, the relationship varied,with field vole Microtus agrestis density and season. Temperature had only a weak effect in the calibration. The same number of tunnels with weasel footprints was equivalent to greater weasel abundance at high vole density than at low vole density. Similarly, weasel abundance was greater for the same number of tunnels with weasel footprints in summer and autumn than in winter and spring. In conclusion, it is important to correct for variation in vole density when using activity indices such as footprint tunnel tracking to sample weasel abundance, otherwise spurious patterns may emerge from the use of such index data.

AB - Quantifying the abundance of small mustelids is important both for conservation purposes and for our understanding of ecosystem processes. Footprint tunnel tracking is one of the techniques now used to index the relative abundance of small mammals; however, there have been few or no previous attempts to calibrate indices of mustelid abundance derived from footprint tunnel tracking. Weasel Mustela nivalis abundance was assessed by footprint tunnel tracking and simultaneous live-trapping, either capture-mark-recapture or removal, in six sites in northern England from April 1998 to February 2000. The number of tunnels with weasel footprints was tightly related to the number of weasels live-trapped, although, as expected, the relationship varied,with field vole Microtus agrestis density and season. Temperature had only a weak effect in the calibration. The same number of tunnels with weasel footprints was equivalent to greater weasel abundance at high vole density than at low vole density. Similarly, weasel abundance was greater for the same number of tunnels with weasel footprints in summer and autumn than in winter and spring. In conclusion, it is important to correct for variation in vole density when using activity indices such as footprint tunnel tracking to sample weasel abundance, otherwise spurious patterns may emerge from the use of such index data.

KW - density

KW - footprint tracking indices

KW - live trapping

KW - Mustela nivalis

KW - northern England

KW - population cycles

KW - specialist predators

KW - weasel

KW - rats rattus-rattus

KW - New-Zealand

KW - cyclic dynamics

KW - small mammals

KW - home-range

KW - population

KW - predation

KW - erminea

KW - stoats

KW - forest

M3 - Article

VL - 8

SP - 279

EP - 287

JO - Wildlife Biology

JF - Wildlife Biology

SN - 0909-6396

IS - 4

ER -