Grugliasco, Italy
Grugliasco, Italy
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Live trapping often constitutes the simplest field technique to obtain biological information on small, nocturnal mammals. However, to be reliable, live-trapping studies require efficient traps that allow the capturing of all functional categories of the targeted population. Herein, we present the results of a live-trapping study of the woodland dormouse Graphiurus murinus (Gliridae), a species for which limited scientific data are available. Our aim was to evaluate the efficiency of smallmammal traps (Sherman and PVC), and investigate potential seasonal-, sexual-, age-, and microhabitatrelated differences in trapping success. We conducted 12 trapping sessions and deployed 2051 trapping units between Feb. 2006 and Mar. 2007, in a riverine forest of the Great Fish River Reserve, South Africa. Only arboreal trapping with Sherman traps proved to be successful. No dormouse was ever caught on the ground with PVC traps, either inside or outside the riverine forest. We made 234 captures of 48 different dormice: 9 adult males, 17 adult females, 3 unsexed adults, and 19 juveniles. Overall, 64% of the dormice known to occur in the area during the study period were caught with Sherman traps. Individual dormice were caught on average 4.9 (range, 1-17) times. Trapping success averaged 13.3% (range, 3.0%-33.3%). It was lowest during winter (5.1%) and peaked in summer (19.0%) and autumn (16.7%). More adult males were caught in spring during the mating season, whereas more adult females were trapped in summer during the lactating period. The trapping success of juveniles peaked in summer and autumn, when they were progressively becoming independent and were probably exploring large areas in and possibly outside of the maternal home range. We conclude that arboreal live-trapping with Sherman traps would constitute an effective technique to study the population dynamics and spatial distribution of the woodland dormouse, but suggest that a nest box monitoring program (preferably running concurrently) would provide useful complementary information.

Bertolino S.,DIVAPRA | De Montezemolo N.C.,DIVAPRA | Perrone A.,Wildlife Science
Zoological Science | Year: 2011

We used radiotelemetry to investigate resting sites habitat selection by introduced eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) and native European hare (Lepus europaeus) under sympatric conditions. We tracked 24 hares and 34 cottontails in a protected area of northwestern Italy. Hares were found in different sites every week, while cottontails used the same site for two weeks, and occasionally for longer. It is supposed that this periodic nest switching reduces the risk of predation and parasitism. Hares and cottontails forms were located in different habitats and characterized by dense vegetation cover near the ground. This cover increased from winter to summer in both species, while in autumn it continued to increase in cottontails only, and decreased in hares. Cottontails selected shrubby habitats near the river, and avoided crop fields in all seasons. Hares were more adaptive in their search, using high herbs and shrubs all year round, wheat fields in spring, maize in spring and summer, and stubbles in winter. Arguably, partial niche differentiation is necessary to allow the coexistence of similar species. In our study area, hares and cottontails differentiated in the use of resting sites habitats, presumably so as not to compete in this part of their ecological niche. © 2011 Zoological Society of Japan.

Madikiza Z.J.K.,University Of Fort Hare | Bertolino S.,DIVAPRA | Do Linh San E.,University Of Fort Hare
Journal of Ethology | Year: 2011

We studied the socio-spatial organization of the woodland dormouse, Graphiurus murinus, by means of a monthly live-trapping and nest-box monitoring programme. Adult male (N = 5) home ranges were almost twice as large as those of females (N = 8), and both intra and intersexual home-range overlap was significantly larger in males than in females. However, the dispersion pattern of females was rather clumped, even during the breeding period, suggesting that females are not territorial. Sexual receptivity in females was asynchronous. In such circumstances, the Female in Space and Time hypothesis predicts that males will be non-territorial, a scenario which is matched by our data. Therefore, it is likely that the woodland dormouse has a promiscuous mating system. © 2010 Japan Ethological Society and Springer.

Madikiza Z.J.K.,University Of Fort Hare | Bertolino S.,DIVAPRA | Baxter R.M.,University Of Fort Hare | Baxter R.M.,University of Venda | Linh San E.D.,University Of Fort Hare
European Journal of Wildlife Research | Year: 2010

The use of nest boxes by the woodland dormouse, Graphiurus murinus, was investigated over a 13-month period in a riverine forest of the Great Fish River Reserve, South Africa. We predicted that some characteristics of nest box placement would affect nest box use and that the seasonal pattern of nest box use would be linked to the species' life cycle and physiological and socioecological characteristics. Generalized linear models indicated that the time since nest box installation and nest box height above ground positively affected the frequency and intensity of nest box use. Male and female dormice, as well as adults and juveniles, did not differ in the number of nest boxes used and equally occupied individual nest boxes. The percentage of nest boxes used peaked during spring and summer (breeding period) and dropped during winter (hibernation). However, whereas significantly more males were caught during the mating season (spring), the number of females occupying nest boxes was constant during the year. As female dormice successfully bred in the nest boxes, the observed sexual patterns suggest that (artificial) nest sites represent an important resource for females, whereas females seem to constitute the main resource for males, as predicted by the socioecological model. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.

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