Several factors influence microhabitat selection by rodents: predation risk, food distribution, vegetation density, and human disturbances. The goals of this study were to determine if (1) white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) demonstrate microhabitat preference across a rural landscape, and (2) white-footed mice living in different microhabitats exhibit different foraging behaviors. The experimental site consisted of three microhabitats: Forest, Grass, and Edge. Live-trapping was conducted prior to the experiment to determine the species composition of the field site to consist primarily of white footed mice, prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster), and shrews (F. Soricidae). Population estimate calculations indicated there were approximately 9.7 white-footed mice in the grass microhabitat and 35.9 in the forest. P. leucopus from forest microhabitats had significantly higher body mass than field mice from grass microhabitats (p=0.01). Camera traps with artificial foraging patches were set up in each microhabitat. Each foraging station was baited in the evening with 75 whole Black Oil sunflower seeds and checked after 24 hours (1 trap night). For each trap night, GUDs were counted, shells left behind were noted, and videos were analyzed. Videos were analyzed for stations discovery, visits, entries, rearing, door preference, and visits post seed depletion. Live-trapping success and population estimates suggest a microhabitat preference for the forest. White-footed mice discovered forest foraging stations more frequently than stations placed within edge and grass microhabitats (p<0.05). There was no significant difference in the number of visits, entries, or GUDs among the three microhabitats (p>0.05). White-footed mice did not display differences in rearing or shells left behind among microhabitats (p>0.05). As a whole, P. leucopus did not exhibit a door preference (p>0.05), yet within each microhabitat P. leucopus demonstrated door preferences (p<0.0001). The forest microhabitat had the significantly more post seed depletion visits than the other microhabitats (p<0.0001). P. lecuopus visited foraging stations less often during the day (p<0.0001). This experiment shows a microhabitat preference for the forest by P. leucopus, however not all of the variables tested support this. It is important to use multiple methods to determine microhabitat preference to get a better understanding of animal behavioral characteristics, such as foraging and use of cover. Understanding rodent foraging behaviors can provide critical information for both conservation and pest management land management decisions.
|Advisor:||Lee, Danielle N|
|Commitee:||Brunkow, Paul, Petruccelli, Emily|
|School:||Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||MAI 82/3(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Behavior, Camera trap, Field mice, Giving-up densities, Microhabitat preference, Peromyscus leucopus|
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