Margin/field interfaces and small mammals


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields

    A replicated, site comparison study in 1992–1998 on farms across southern UK (Brown 1999) found that on uncultivated field margins, more small mammals were caught than in open crop fields. Results were not analysed for statistical significance. More small mammals were trapped in field margins (139 individuals) than in open fields (78 individuals) on conventional farms. The same pattern held on organic farms (margin: 142 individuals; field: 86). A higher proportion of individuals was trapped in margins at two primary study sites for wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus (margin: 40–80%; field: 20–60%), bank vole Myodes glareolus (margin: 75–95%; field: 5–25%) and common shrew Sorex araneus (margin: 40–90%; field: 10–60%). Small mammals were sampled on two farms over 10 nights, four times/year, in 1992–1998. Live traps were set at 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 20, 40 m into each field from the boundary. Sample areas included four each of conventional margins, organic margins, conventional crops and organic crops. An unspecified number (≥12) of additional farms was also sampled, each in a single (unspecified) year. The study reports 54 sites were sampled. It is unclear if each of these was a different field. Further elements of the sampling design (such as margin dimensions and the proportion of traps that were in or outside of margins) are unclear.

    (Summarised by: Nick Littlewood)

  2. Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

    A replicated study from 1992 to 1998 in England, UK (Brown 1999) found that small mammal activity was greater in field margins than in open fields in both organic (142 vs 86 mammals respectively) and conventional systems (139 vs 78). There was no difference between systems. The same trend was seen in both systems for wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus (margins: 40-80%; field: 20-60% of population activity), bank vole Myodes glareolus (75-95% vs 5-25%) and common shrew Sorex arenaeus (40-90% vs 10-60%). The difference between activity in the margin and field was greater during winter than summer. Seeded margins showed a rapid increase in activity over four years for wood mouse (year 1: 15-16 trapped; year 4: 28-30), bank vole (year 1: 2-8; year 4: 16-36) and common shrew (year 1: 6-7; year 4: 18-19). Two to four new field margins were sampled within organic and conventional fields at two farms, in Essex and Leicestershire. Mark-recapture programmes were undertaken using Longworth traps over 10 nights each season from 1992 to 1998. Traps were set at 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 20, 40 m into the field, replicated five times at each site. Additional, ‘one-off’ trapping sessions were undertaken over one year at five pairs of organic/conventional farms.

Output references
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