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Agricultural habitat usage by wood mice

Photograph of a Wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus)
Wood mice are one of the most common mammals throughout agricultural habitat in Britain and Europe.

Background

Small mammals, such as the wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus), are a known food source for birds of prey such as barn owls and species of harrier, and rare large mammals such as pine marten, polecats and wildcats. Wood mice may also influence food production via seed predation both of crops and of agricultural weeds. Wood mice are one of the most common mammals throughout agricultural habitat in Britain and Europe. They are therefore an important species to consider in light of new goals to achieve sustainable food production. 

In addition, wood mice are a useful model mammal species being relatively easy to study, sufficiently mobile to allow their distribution to reflect choices about habitat quality and they are also midway in the food chain. 

There is evidence to suggest that wood mice habitat usage is influenced by both field-level factors and wider landscape factors.

Methods/approach

The project will investigate whether crop preferences exist within the mouse population and compare usage of cropped habitat with that of semi-natural habitat. To do this, two field sites will be used and individual wood mice will be identified and tracked by using microsatellite markers. This will give us detailed information on population structures and whether the population structure changes throughout the agricultural season. 

A final aspect of the project is to identify possible underlying drivers of wood mice habitat usage. We will do this by manipulating levels of weed abundance within cropped plots, in addition to overlaying information about weed abundance and diversity with wood mice distribution at the Centre for Sustainable Cropping.

Staff involved

Please contact Amanda Wilson for further information. More information about Amanda's work can be found on her staff page.

This research is being supervised by:

Brian Fenton, Graham Begg, Gaynor Malloch and Brian Boag (The James Hutton Institute), Steve Hubbard and Anne Magurran (University of St Andrews), Dave Parish (Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust).

Funding

This research is being funded by the James Hutton Institute studentship Fund, University of St Andrews (NERC), NFU Mutual, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT).

Research

Areas of Interest


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.