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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Influence of supplemental feeding on a vole population

Published source details

Cole F.R. & Batzli G.O. (1978) Influence of supplemental feeding on a vole population. Journal of Mammalogy, 59, 809-819


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Provide supplementary food to increase reproduction/survival Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A controlled study in 1975–1976 in a grassland site in Illinois, USA (Cole & Batzli 1978) found that where supplementary food was provided, prairie vole Microtus ochrogaster numbers were temporarily higher and litter size was larger than in an area with no supplementary food. Voles reached higher densities in the food supplemented area (135 voles/ha in April 1976) than in the area with no supplementary feeding (90 voles/ha in October 1975). However, 16–18 months after supplementary feeding commenced, vole numbers were similar in fed and unfed areas (<5/ha). Voles in the fed area had a longer life expectancy and were more likely to breed in winter than voles in the unfed area (data expressed as model results). Average litter size was larger in the fed area (5.1) than in the unfed area (4.3).A 1.5-ha abandoned pasture was divided into two live-trapping grids of 0.80 and 0.55 ha, separated by a 10-m-wide mown strip. On the 0.55-ha grid, 210 feeding stations (200-ml bottles, filled with rabbit pellets, replenished as required) were placed 5 m apart. No supplementary food was provided on the other grid. Voles were surveyed using 60 wooden traps in the supplementary feeding grid and 72 in the unfed grid. Every three weeks from May 1975 (supplementary food grid) and August 1975 (unfed grid) to November 1976, traps were set for three days and checked twice daily. Traps were baited for two days before setting.

(Summarised by Ricardo Rocha)