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1 January 2018 Spatial Variation in Density of White-footed Mice Along Edges in Fragmented Habitat
Jacob L. Berl, Kenneth F. Kellner, Elizabeth A. Flaherty, Robert K. Swihart
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Abstract

The influence of forest fragmentation and associated habitat edges differentially affects forest-dependent organisms, particularly when certain species are able to use resources from surrounding matrix habitats. The white-footed mouse is a forest habitat generalist and is known to disperse among adjoining farmland habitats, including agricultural matrix, in fragmented agro-ecosystems. However, little is known about spatial variation in population density within adjoining farmland habitats or how this relationship varies seasonally. In addition quantifying the extent to which white-footed mice use agricultural matrix as habitat is important for inferring potential ecosystem services (predation of weed seed and waste grain) rendered within row-crop fields. We used spatially explicit capture-recapture models to estimate density of white-footed mice along a gradient of patch (forest fragment) interior to matrix (crop field) interior that spanned fragmented habitat edges. Spatial variation in population density within adjoining habitats was related to the distance from habitat edge, and the magnitude of this relationship (edge effect) varied among seasons and crop cycles within the agricultural matrix. Within-field densities were greater during periods of summer crop growth relative to spring crop emergence or following fall crop harvest. Populations of white-footed mice in forest fragments appear to seasonally spill over from patch habitat into surrounding agricultural matrix. Acquisition of resources from surrounding agricultural matrix may contribute to the inverse density-area relationship observed for white-footed mice within forested habitat in fragmented landscapes. Furthermore, seasonal foraging within matrix habitat likely provides weed seed predation ecosystem services in row-crop fields.

Jacob L. Berl, Kenneth F. Kellner, Elizabeth A. Flaherty, and Robert K. Swihart "Spatial Variation in Density of White-footed Mice Along Edges in Fragmented Habitat," The American Midland Naturalist 179(1), 38-50, (1 January 2018). https://doi.org/10.1674/0003-0031-179.1.38
Received: 13 February 2017; Accepted: 1 September 2017; Published: 1 January 2018
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