Effects of grazing intensity on small mammal population ecology in wet meadows

  • Published source details Schmidt N.M., Olsen H., Bildsøe M., Sluydts V. & Leirs H. (2005) Effects of grazing intensity on small mammal population ecology in wet meadows. Basic and Applied Ecology, 6, 57-66.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Reduce intensity of grazing by domestic livestock

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation
  1. Reduce intensity of grazing by domestic livestock

    A replicated, controlled study in 1998–2000 of pasture at a site in Denmark (Schmidt et al. 2005) found that in plots with reduced livestock grazing intensity, small mammal biomass was higher. Small mammal biomass peaks across the study in each of two plots/treatment were higher in ungrazed plots (287–959 g), intermediate in low-intensity sheep plots (251–801 g) and lowest in high-intensity cattle plots (64–195 g). The estimated population of field voles Microtus agrestis (the most abundant species recorded) was higher each year in ungrazed plots (29–94/plot) than in high-intensity cattle plots (3–27/plot), but was higher still in low-intensity sheep plots in two of three years (32–63/plot). In 1997, two meadows were divided into 70 × 300-m pens. One plot on each meadow was assigned to high-intensity cattle grazing (4.8 steers/ha), one to low intensity sheep grazing (4.5 ewes plus lambs/ha) and one was ungrazed. Grazing occurred from mid-May to mid-October, though was prevented on half of each pen until after hay cutting (late-June to early-July). The delayed grazing part was reversed the following year. Small mammals were live-trapped over three days and nights, every four weeks, over 31 trapping sessions, from June 1998 to October 2000.

    (Summarised by: Nick Littlewood)

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