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Individual Range, Dispersion and Dispersal in a Population of Water Voles (Arvicola terrestris (L.))

D. Michael Stoddart
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 39, No. 2 (Jun., 1970), pp. 403-425
DOI: 10.2307/2979
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2979
Page Count: 24
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Individual Range, Dispersion and Dispersal in a Population of Water Voles (Arvicola terrestris (L.))
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Abstract

(1) A small stream system flowing through open grouse moor near Aberdeen, Scotland, was chosen as a study area for a population study of water voles (Arvicola terrestris). (2) Voles were caught in a newly designed trap, and were marked with numbered metal ear tags, after anaesthetization with ether. (3) Four systems of trap arrangement were devised which allowed the distance between traps and the trapping effort to be varied. (4) The dispersion patterns of the population in 1966 and 1967 were very similar. No evidence was gathered to suggest that any large part of the stream system was not occupied. In general, male ranges frequently overlapped with other male ranges, while female ranges did not overlap with other female ranges. (5) A new radioisotope technique was used to investigate the accuracy of measurement of range length by the capture-recapture method. The method involved the subcutaneous injection of 20 mu Ci 32P (sodium orthophosphate in buffered solution) and subsequent finding of radioactive latrines with a portable Geiger-Muller counter. The positions of these were plotted on a map. (6) The radioisotope technique was applied to the same population that was trapped. A distance between traps of 62.5 m was found to give a longer estimate of range than when the distance was 37.5 or 12.5 m. However, this distance may exclude the capture of any vole with a short range, unless the line of traps is moved each day. The longest traprevealed range (by any system of trap arrangement used) was, on average, 13.0% shorter than the ranges measured by the radioisotope technique. The average length of range of a male water vole was found to be 129.2 m. (7) Two types of dispersal were recognized--long distance movements, always of a permanent nature, and short distance movements, which may be occasional sallies, or may be permanent or semi-permanent movements. One example of the first occurred--the individual concerned travelling 2.6 km. Five examples of short distance movements are given. (8) Only adult females showed dispersal movements. (9) Short distance moves were checked with the radioactive technique, and were found to be semi-permanent (in the sense that they were not sallies).

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