How maize monoculture and increasing winter rainfall have brought the hibernating European hamster to the verge of extinction

Abstract : Over the last decades, climate change and agricultural intensification have been identified as two major phenomena negatively affecting biodiversity. However, little is known about their effects on the life-history traits of hibernating species living in agro-ecosystems. The European hamster (Cricetus cricetus), once a common rodent on agricultural land, is now on the verge of extinction in France. Despite the implemented measures for its protection, populations are still in sharp decline but the reasons for it remain unclear. To investigate how environmental change has affected this hibernating rodent, we used a data set based on 1468 recordings of hamster body mass at emergence from hibernation from 1937 to 2014. We reveal the adverse effects of increasing winter rainfall and maize monoculture intensification on the body mass of wild hamsters. Given the links that exist between body mass, reproductive success and population dynamics in mammals, these results are of particular importance to understand the decline of this species. In view of the rates of maize monoculture intensification and the predicted increase in winter rainfall, it is of the utmost importance to improve land management in Western Europe to avoid the extinction of this species
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Submitted on : Thursday, August 25, 2016 - 3:04:12 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 4:46:35 PM

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Mathilde L. Tissier, Yves Handrich, Jean-Patrice Robin, Mathieu Weitten, Paul Pevet, et al.. How maize monoculture and increasing winter rainfall have brought the hibernating European hamster to the verge of extinction. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2016, 6, pp.25531. ⟨10.1038/srep25531⟩. ⟨hal-01356334⟩

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