Historical agricultural changes and the expansion of a water vole population in an Alpine valley

Abstract : Small mammal population outbreaks are one of the consequences of socio-economic and technological changes in agriculture. They can cause important economic damage and generally play a key role in food webs, as a major food resource for predators. The fossorial form of the water vole, Arvicola terrestris, was unknown in the Haute Romanche Valley (French Alps) before 1998. In 1998, the first colony was observed at the top of a valley and population spread was monitored during 12 years, until 2010. Spread occurred as a high population density wave. Based on farming history (1810–2003, 193 years) and spatio-temporal analysis of crop rotations, our study indicates that this water vole population outbreak has been promoted by the presence of grassland corridors that increase hayfield connectivity. These corridors appeared as a result of the conversion of cropped fields to hay meadows where water vole outbreaks have occurred. Spatial mosaic management for grasslands with decreasing spatial connectedness should be considered to prevent vole outbreak risks and promote biodiversity.
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Submitted on : Sunday, August 23, 2015 - 2:59:33 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, July 17, 2019 - 11:48:05 AM

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Guillaume Halliez, François Renault, Eric Vannard, Gilles Farny, Sandra Lavorel, et al.. Historical agricultural changes and the expansion of a water vole population in an Alpine valley. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, Elsevier Masson, 2015, 212, pp.198-206. ⟨10.1016/j.agee.2015.07.006⟩. ⟨hal-01186017⟩

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