Autumn habitat selection of the harvest mouse (Micromys minutus Pallas, 1771) in a rural and fragmented landscape.

  • January 1, 2020
  • by Vecsernyés, F. (2020).


The harvest mouse Micromys minutus has, through nest findings, been documented to live in wetlands in tall sedges and grasses in Central Europe. However, there is very little information on the type of habitat this species uses outside of nesting, because this rodent is difficult to capture in ordinary trapping set ups. In France and Switzerland, the harvest mouse populations have decreased strongly in the past two centuries due to the drastic reduction of its favored habitat. The present study used radiotracking to examine a small population in Eastern France living in a fragmented rural landscape. The aim was to learn more about the habitat and vegetation selection of this population during autumn. The results showed that the most favored habitats were in patches of stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) and American goldenrod (Solidago gigantea) rather than in their supposedly preferred vegetation type, which are tall grass wetlands. The results also presented migrating behavior in three out of the eight monitored individuals, which lead to the discovery of a possible wintering area in an unmown grassy site around a plant dump. These results suggest that disturbed, but unmown areas are important for the harvest mouse as wintering vegetation and should be available in the surrounding of a reproduction site. The results also showed that wetland management must take into account the affinity of this mammal for areas invaded by American goldenrod, in order to prevent the harvest mouse populations from decreasing in those secondary habitats.

PUBLICATION AVAILABLE AT:—-Custom-HTML—-Autumn/10.5281/zenodo.2619526.short