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Influence of Soil Texture, Moisture and Temperature on Nest-site Selection and Burrowing by the Pine Vole, Microtus pinetorum

Donald H. Rhodes and Milo E. Richmond
The American Midland Naturalist
Vol. 113, No. 1 (Jan., 1985), pp. 102-108
DOI: 10.2307/2425352
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2425352
Page Count: 7
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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.
Influence of Soil Texture, Moisture and Temperature on Nest-site Selection and Burrowing by the Pine Vole, Microtus pinetorum
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Abstract

The influence of soil temperature on nest-site selection by the semifossorial pine vole (Microtus pinetorum) was examined by presenting the voles with a dichotomous choice in soil temperature (19 C vs. 25 C, 30 C or 35 C). In this instance, the number of nests constructed in heated soil decreased with increasing soil temperature; no subsurface nests were built in soil maintained at 30 C or 35 C. These findings may be related to an inability of these voles to effectively regulate body temperature in a heated subsurface environment. When presented with a choice among three soil types consisting of a base mixture of loam and peat moss (3:1 volume/volume), or the base mixture to which was added gravel (3:2 v/v) or stone (1:1 v/v), a significantly larger number of voles selected the loam/peat moss mixture in which to construct subsurface nests and tunnel systems than the other two soil mixtures. The soil/stone mixture was always avoided completely Similarly, voles confined to the soil/stone mixture, and subsequently released, re-established themselves in an alternate soil type. The majority of voles selected the loam/peat moss mixture. Lastly, when a moisture gradient was imposed on each of the three soil types, voles continued to select the loam/peat moss mixture, but significantly more voles were located in an area of intermediate soil moisture content than in the wet or dry regions of each soil type. These results are discussed with regard to both the energetic costs of burrowing and the water conservation requirements of this species.

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