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Habitat Fragmentation and Movements of Three Small Mammals (Sigmodon, Microtus, and Peromyscus)

James E. Diffendorfer, Michael S. Gaines and Robert D. Holt
Ecology
Vol. 76, No. 3 (Apr., 1995), pp. 827-839
DOI: 10.2307/1939348
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1939348
Page Count: 13
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Habitat Fragmentation and Movements of Three Small Mammals (Sigmodon, Microtus, and Peromyscus)
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Abstract

We studied the effects of habitat fragmentation on the movements of cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus), deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus), and prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) living in a fragmented landscape using 7.7 yr (1984-1992) of mark-recapture data. The study area included three kinds of 0.5-ha blocks: single large patches (5000 m^2), clusters of medium patches (27 88 m^2), and clusters of small patches (32 m^2). We tested three predictions regarding animal movements. First, animals should move longer distances as fragmentation increases. Second, the proportion of animals moving will decrease as fragmentation increases. Third, species will show more movement from putative sources to putative sinks. In support of our first two predictions, all species (except male cotton rats) moved farther, and lower proportions of animals moved, as fragmentation increased. In testing our third prediction, we found no trends, for all species, between patch size and the net number of animals a block either imported or exported, indicating source-sink dynamics were probably not occurring on our study site. Furthermore, animals of all species (except female deer mice) switched more frequently to blocks of larger patches. For prairie voles in the spring and deer mice in the summer, relative abundances among blocks predicted from a Markov matrix model of switching probabilities showed high congruence with the actual abundances, indicating movement and abundances were related. In both cotton rats and prairie voles but not in deer mice, more juveniles and nonreproductive animals switched between blocks than did adults or reproductive animals. Deer mice switched more frequently than did either cotton rats or prairie voles; the latter species switched in similar frequencies. We discuss the implications of our data for modeling and conservation.

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