Elliot's short-tailed shrews (Blarina hylophaga) were studied in tallgrass prairie at Konza Prairie Biological Station, Kansas. Based on sampling of 14 permanent traplines from autumn 1981 to spring 1999, relative abundance was high in autumn (X̄ = 2.5 ± 0.4 SE shrews/trapline) but very low in spring (<0.1 shrews/trapline). Interannual variability in abundance in autumn was large with a range 0.1–7.0 shrews/trapline. Relative abundance of shrews in autumn was correlated positively with precipitation, soil moisture, and depth of plant litter and correlated negatively with proportion of area burned and maximum temperature. Two variables, precipitation, and amount of litter, accounted for 87% of variation in abundance of shrews in autumn. Ambient moisture and a well-developed litter layer that ameliorates microclimatic extremes appear to be the most important factors influencing abundance of shrews in tallgrass prairie.
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