Herbicide application affects microhabitat use by arable wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus)

  • Published source details Tew T.E., Macdonald D.W. & Rands M.R.W. (1992) Herbicide application affects microhabitat use by arable wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus). Journal of Applied Ecology, 29, 532-539.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Leave headlands in fields unsprayed

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands)

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Leave headlands in fields unsprayed

    A replicated study in 1986–1987 in an arable field, in Oxfordshire, UK (Tew et al. 1992) found that not spraying herbicide on headlands of crop at the field edge was associated with higher use of those areas by wood mice Apodemus sylvaticus. The proportion of location fixes obtained for mice in unsprayed or sprayed plots indicated greater selection of unsprayed plots relative to their availability within home ranges (data presented as preference indices). Plots extended 10 m into a winter wheat field and were 20 m long. Plots were either sprayed or not sprayed with a range of agricultural herbicides. Application of other chemicals (insecticides, fungicides, growth regulators and fertilizers) were the same across all plots. Wood mouse movements were monitored by radio-tracking 15 mice, between June and August in each of 1986 and 1987.

    (Summarised by: Nick Littlewood)

  2. Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands)

    A replicated, controlled study in 1986-1988 of two wheat fields in Oxfordshire, UK (Tew et al. 1992) found that conservation and unsprayed headlands were used more frequently by wood mice Apodemus sylvaticus than sprayed headlands and mid-field. Preference indices for wood mice were 6 for conservation headlands, 6-7 for unsprayed headlands, 2-4 for sprayed plots and 3 for mid-field. Mice showed a significant preference for the mid-field over sprayed headlands. Conservation and unsprayed headland plots contained significantly higher densities of black-grass Alopecurus myosuroides, wild oats Avena spp., sterile brome Bromus sterilis and forget-me-not Myosotis arvensis. Abundance did not differ between the sprayed headland and mid-field for any weed species. In 1986, four of 15 orders of invertebrate were significantly more abundant in unsprayed than sprayed headlands (springtails (Collembola): 6 vs 1 m², true bugs (Hemiptera): 23 vs 8 m², flies (Diptera): 142 vs 24 m², parasitoid wasps (Parasitica): 18 vs 5 m²). In 1987 there was no significant difference between invertebrate abundance in sprayed, unsprayed or conservation headland plots. In one field, alternate plots (20 x 10 m) along the headland were either conventionally sprayed or unsprayed, or in 1987 conservation headland plots. Vegetation was sampled in 5-10 quadrats (0.25 x 0.25 m) in 8-11 plots/treatment in July. In the conventionally sprayed control field, plants were sampled in quadrats of 0.06 m² at 1, 5 and 8 m from the hedge and in the centre of the field. Invertebrates were sampled at 3-5 random positions within 3-8 plots/treatment using a D- Vac sampler in July 1986-1987. Wood mice were radio-tracked at 10 min intervals at night in May-August.


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