Water Voles (water + vole)

Distribution by Scientific Domains


Selected Abstracts


Modelling space use and dispersal of mammals in real landscapes: a tool for conservation

JOURNAL OF BIOGEOGRAPHY, Issue 4 2003
David W. Macdonald
Abstract Aim To explore the usefulness of Spatially Explicit Population Models (SEPMs), incorporating dispersal, as tools for animal conservation, as illustrated by the contrasting cases of four British mammals. Methods For each of the four species (American mink, Mustela vison, pine marten, Martes martes, dormouse, Muscardinus avellanarius and water vole, Arvicola terrestris) a spatial dynamics model was developed based on an integrated geographical information system (GIS) population model that linked space use to the incidence of the species. Each model had, first, a GIS, which stored environmental, habitat and animal population information, and secondly, an individual-based population dynamics module, which simulated home range formation, individual life histories and dispersal within the GIS-held landscape. Results The four models illustrated different interactions between species life-history variables and the landscape, particularly with respect to dispersal. As water voles and dormice occupy home ranges that are small relative to blocks of their habitat, they were most effectively modelled in terms of the dynamics of local populations within habitat blocks but linked by dispersal. In contrast, because the home ranges of American mink and pine marten are large relative to blocks of habitat, they were best modelled as individuals moving through a landscape of more or less useful patches of habitat. For the water vole, the most significant predictors of population size were the carrying capacity of each habitat and the annual number of litters. For the dormouse, the likelihood of catastrophe and the upper limit to dispersal movement were the key variables determining persistence. Adult mortality and home-range size were the only significant partial correlates of total population size for the American mink. Adult mortality was also a significant correlate of total population size in the pine marten, as were litter size and juvenile mortality. In neither the marten nor the mink was dispersal distance a significant factor in determining their persistence in the landscape. Main conclusions At a landscape scale it is difficult to measure animal distributions directly and yet conservation planning often necessitates knowledge of where, and in what numbers, animals are found, and how their distributions will be affected by interventions. SEPMs offer a useful tool for predicting this, and for refining conservation plans before irreversible decisions are taken in practice. [source]


Biostratigraphic and aminostratigraphic constraints on the age of the Middle Pleistocene glacial succession in north Norfolk, UK,

JOURNAL OF QUATERNARY SCIENCE, Issue 6 2009
Richard C. Preece
Abstract Considerable debate surrounds the age of the Middle Pleistocene glacial succession in East Anglia following some recent stratigraphical reinterpretations. Resolution of the stratigraphy here is important since it not only concerns the glacial history of the region but also has a bearing on our understanding of the earliest human occupation of north-western Europe. The orthodox consensus that all the tills were emplaced during the Anglian (Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 12) has recently been challenged by a view assigning each major till to a different glacial stage, before, during and after MIS 12. Between Trimingham and Sidestrand on the north Norfolk coast, datable organic sediments occur immediately below and above the glacial succession. The oldest glacial deposit (Happisburgh Till) directly overlies the ,Sidestrand Unio -bed', here defined as the Sidestrand Hall Member of the Cromer Forest-bed Formation. Dating of these sediments therefore has a bearing on the maximum age of the glacial sequence. This paper reviews the palaeobotany and describes the faunal assemblages recovered from the Sidestrand Unio -bed, which accumulated in a fluvial environment in a fully temperate climate with regional deciduous woodland. There are indications from the ostracods for weakly brackish conditions. Significant differences are apparent between the Sidestrand assemblages and those from West Runton, the type site of the Cromerian Stage. These differences do not result from contrasting facies or taphonomy but reflect warmer palaeotemperatures at Sidestrand and a much younger age. This conclusion is suggested by the higher proportion of thermophiles at Sidestrand and the occurrence of a water vole with unrooted molars (Arvicola) rather than its ancestor Mimomyssavini with rooted molars. Amino acid racemisation data also indicate that Sidestrand is significantly younger than West Runton. These data further highlight the stratigraphical complexity of the ,Cromerian Complex' and support the conventional view that the Happisburgh Till was emplaced during the Anglian rather than the recently advanced view that it dates from MIS 16. Moreover, new evidence from the Trimingham lake bed (Sidestrand Cliff Formation) above the youngest glacial outwash sediments (Briton's Lane Formation) indicates that they also accumulated during a Middle Pleistocene interglacial , probably MIS 11. All of this evidence is consistent with a short chronology placing the glacial deposits within MIS 12, rather than invoking multiple episodes of glaciation envisaged in the ,new glacial stratigraphy' during MIS 16, 12, 10 and 6. Copyright 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]


Spatio-temporal variation in the strength and mode of selection acting on major histocompatibility complex diversity in water vole (Arvicola terrestris) metapopulations

MOLECULAR ECOLOGY, Issue 1 2009
MATTHEW K. OLIVER
Abstract Patterns of spatio-temporal genetic variation at a class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) locus and multiple microsatellite loci were analysed within and between three water vole metapopulations in Scotland, UK. Comparisons of MHC and microsatellite spatial genetic differentiation, based on standardised tests between two demographically asynchronous zones within a metapopulation, suggested that spatial MHC variation was affected by balancing selection, directional selection and random genetic drift, but that the relative effects of these microevolutionary forces vary temporally. At the metapopulation level, between-year differentiation for MHC loci was significantly correlated with that of microsatellites, signifying that neutral factors such as migration and drift were primarily responsible for overall temporal genetic change at the metapopulation scale. Between metapopulations, patterns of genetic differentiation implied that, at large spatial scales, MHC variation was primarily affected by directional selection and drift. Levels of MHC heterozygosity in excess of Hardy,Weinberg expectations were consistent with overdominant balancing selection operating on MHC variation within metapopulations. However, this effect was not constant among all samples, indicating temporal variation in the strength of selection relative to other factors. The results highlight the benefit of contrasting variation at MHC with neutral markers to separate the effects of stochastic and deterministic microevolutionary forces, and add to a growing body of evidence showing that the mode and relative strength of selection acting on MHC diversity varies both spatially and temporally. [source]


Landscape composition and vole outbreaks: evidence from an eight year study of Arvicola terrestris

ECOGRAPHY, Issue 6 2000
E. Fichet-Calvet
This study investigates the relationships between landscape composition and the population dynamics of the fossorial water vole Arvicola terrestris. Land use patterns were studied based on agricultural and forestry data from the French Ministry of Agriculture collected in 1955 and 1988. In the Massif Central, France, water vole populations were monitored from 1985 to 1993 by using index methods. Outbreaks of water vole populations occurred in many dispersed epicentres and spread suddenly and widely over > 7500 km2. At a regional scale, the fluctuation lasts six years on average with an outbreak period lasting from two to three years. Density variation patterns are positively correlated with the proportion of permanent grassland to agricultural land. A high risk of outbreak is linked to a high proportion of permanent grassland (over 90%), whereas a low risk of outbreak is linked to a proportion of < 80%, Conversely, density variation patterns are negatively correlated with the proportion of temporary grassland to agricultural land and with the proportion of forest to total land in the western (major) part of the study area. Temporary grassland thus appears to be a marginal habitat for water voles and extensive forests could act as a brake on outbreaks. The increase in the area of permanent grassland from 1955 to 1988 was apparently the major cause of chronic high densities of water voles. Therefore, land use and landscape management could be one way to control water vole outbreaks. [source]


Effects of forage availability on growth and maturation rates in water voles

JOURNAL OF ANIMAL ECOLOGY, Issue 6 2008
Tom P. Moorhouse
Summary 1In populations of small mammals, food supplementation typically results in higher population densities, body weights, growth rates and reproductive rates. However, few studies have demonstrated a relationship between forage levels and demographic rates in wild populations in the absence of supplementation. 2We examined the association of levels of available forage with individual growth rates and time to sexual maturity in eight re-introduced and three naturally occurring populations of water voles (Arvicola terrestris). 3Range sizes were smaller at sites with higher population densities. Mean forage availability and individual growth rates covaried with range size at each site. 4The weight at which water voles became sexually mature was 112 g for females and 115 g for males and did not vary between study sites. Differences in growth rates therefore translated into differences in the time taken to reach maturity between sites. 5In the re-introduced populations, mean days to maturity varied inversely with mean range length. Females took 7 days (18%, range 40,47 days) longer and males 5 days (13%, range 40,45 days) longer to reach breeding condition at the sites with the shortest mean range lengths. 6Evidence from this study suggests a possible mechanism by which increased population densities may reduce maturation rates in water voles through a reduction in mean range size, thereby limiting the availability of forage to each individual. [source]


Modelling space use and dispersal of mammals in real landscapes: a tool for conservation

JOURNAL OF BIOGEOGRAPHY, Issue 4 2003
David W. Macdonald
Abstract Aim To explore the usefulness of Spatially Explicit Population Models (SEPMs), incorporating dispersal, as tools for animal conservation, as illustrated by the contrasting cases of four British mammals. Methods For each of the four species (American mink, Mustela vison, pine marten, Martes martes, dormouse, Muscardinus avellanarius and water vole, Arvicola terrestris) a spatial dynamics model was developed based on an integrated geographical information system (GIS) population model that linked space use to the incidence of the species. Each model had, first, a GIS, which stored environmental, habitat and animal population information, and secondly, an individual-based population dynamics module, which simulated home range formation, individual life histories and dispersal within the GIS-held landscape. Results The four models illustrated different interactions between species life-history variables and the landscape, particularly with respect to dispersal. As water voles and dormice occupy home ranges that are small relative to blocks of their habitat, they were most effectively modelled in terms of the dynamics of local populations within habitat blocks but linked by dispersal. In contrast, because the home ranges of American mink and pine marten are large relative to blocks of habitat, they were best modelled as individuals moving through a landscape of more or less useful patches of habitat. For the water vole, the most significant predictors of population size were the carrying capacity of each habitat and the annual number of litters. For the dormouse, the likelihood of catastrophe and the upper limit to dispersal movement were the key variables determining persistence. Adult mortality and home-range size were the only significant partial correlates of total population size for the American mink. Adult mortality was also a significant correlate of total population size in the pine marten, as were litter size and juvenile mortality. In neither the marten nor the mink was dispersal distance a significant factor in determining their persistence in the landscape. Main conclusions At a landscape scale it is difficult to measure animal distributions directly and yet conservation planning often necessitates knowledge of where, and in what numbers, animals are found, and how their distributions will be affected by interventions. SEPMs offer a useful tool for predicting this, and for refining conservation plans before irreversible decisions are taken in practice. [source]