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An Epidemic among Voles (Microtus agrestis) on the Scottish Border in the Spring of 1934

Charles Elton, D. H. S. Davis and G. M. Findlay
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 4, No. 2 (Nov., 1935), pp. 277-288
DOI: 10.2307/1018
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1018
Page Count: 13
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
An Epidemic among Voles (Microtus agrestis) on the Scottish Border in the Spring of 1934
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Abstract

On the basis of trapping and trace censuses an epidemic among voles (Microtus) was forecast in the Newcastleton area of southern Scotland for the spring of 1934. This was expected as the result of a periodic maximum in numbers shown in 1933. Field and laboratory studies were carried out during the first 6 months of 1934, involving census work, breeding voles, collection of live voles and pathological examinations and experiments. A severe epidemic occurred with a peak mortality in April and May, voles dying in the laboratory with a protozoan infection of the brain due to Toxoplasma. This was successfully transmitted to stocks of normal healthy voles and no deaths were found due to causes other than Toxoplasma. Since Toxoplasma was found to cause similar mortality on two other areas in 1933 it is evidently an important controlling factor in the short-period fluctuation known to occur among vole populations in Britain.

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