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Jareno D.,Institute Investigacion en Recursos Cinegeticos | Vinuela J.,Institute Investigacion en Recursos Cinegeticos | Luque-Larena J.J.,University of Valladolid | Luque-Larena J.J.,Instituto Universitario Of Investigacion En Gestion Forestal Sostenible | And 4 more authors.
Ecological Indicators

Rodent outbreaks cause significant crop damages in agricultural areas worldwide, but routinely monitoring large areas at low cost remains a challenge. The common vole Microtus arvalis has recently colonized the agricultural plains of the northern Iberian Plateau, an area where it has started to produce population outbreaks with important impacts in agriculture, the environment and human health. Vole monitoring has become of prime importance to implement preventive management measures to control populations. In order to find a simple and reliable vole monitoring method to be applied in large areas, we compared abundance estimates derived from three methods: capture-mark-recapture (CMR), single capture events (SCE) and presence/absence of vole activity signs (VAS) during three seasons and on the main agricultural habitats in the study area. We show that an activity index based on the presence of fresh droppings and/or clippings had a similar performance to SCE in a large sample of plots (n = 222) across habitats and seasons. Data obtained with both methods (SCE, VAS) were also well correlated with those obtained with CMR, despite a limited sample size (n = 23 CMR plots). We suggest that the VAS method, which is a cheaper and easier alternative to trapping methods, provides a promising tool for scientists and managers to implement large scale monitoring of common vole in agricultural areas. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Sanchez-Gonzalez M.,Instituto Universitario Of Investigacion En Gestion Forestal Sostenible | Stiti B.,Institute Nacional Of Recherches En Genie Rural Eaux Et Forets | Chaar H.,Institute National Dagronomy Of Tunisie Inat | Canellas I.,Instituto Universitario Of Investigacion En Gestion Forestal Sostenible
Forest Systems

Seven simple and advanced dynamic polymorphic functions were considered to develop a dominant height growth model for Spanish and Tunisian cork oak forests. Data from 115 stem analyses performed in two regions in each country were used to fit the equations. Parameter estimates were obtained using the Dummy variable method. Both numerical, graphical and biological consistency were used to compare alternative models. The dynamic equation finally selected was derived from the Hossfeld model by considering the shape parameter to be related to site productivity. An analysis of the dominant height growth patterns between the two countries indicated that the same dominant height growth model was valid for both countries. This dominant height growth model allows estimation of dominant height with a level of reliability of at least 83% from an age of 15 years for a prediction interval of less than 40 years. Source

Melero Y.,University of Barcelona | Aymerich P.,University of Barcelona | Luque-Larena J.J.,University of Valladolid | Luque-Larena J.J.,Instituto Universitario Of Investigacion En Gestion Forestal Sostenible | Gosalbez J.,University of Barcelona
European Journal of Wildlife Research

We describe novel aspects of the social organisation of the Pyrenean desman, Galemys pyrenaicus, by studying home range and shelter use behaviour in a local population. A total of 45 individuals were trapped of which 20 provided informative radiotracking data. In contrast to the currently accepted hypothesis [Stone RD. The social organization of the Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus) as revealed by radiotelemetry. J Zool 212:117-129; 1987b; Stone RD, Gorman ML. Social organization of the European mole (Talpa europaea) and the Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus). Mammal Rev 15 (1):35-42; 1985] individuals were not strictly territorial. Notably, there was no aggression between conspecifics, with simultaneous use of resting sites (shelters used for more than one hour). Resting sites were not permanent or exclusive for any individual. Individuals shared resting sites simultaneously, regardless of sex or age. Our observations recall for a new evaluation of the social structure and organisation of this species based on the new evidence that reveals higher frequency of social interactions than previously described. Resting sites may play an important role in the social organisation of the species, for instance by allowing direct and indirect communicative interactions among neighbouring individuals. This finding is of significance for the management (e. g. census and population monitoring) and conservation (e.g. habitat suitability to allow social interactions) of this endemic and seriously threatened unique mammal. © 2011 Springer-Verlag. Source

Rodriguez-Pastor R.,University of Valladolid | Rodriguez-Pastor R.,Instituto Universitario Of Investigacion En Gestion Forestal Sostenible | Luque-Larena J.J.,University of Valladolid | Luque-Larena J.J.,Instituto Universitario Of Investigacion En Gestion Forestal Sostenible | And 2 more authors.
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment

Small rodents are common inhabitants of farmlands where they play key ecosystem roles but can also be major pests when overabundant, causing crop damages and significant economic losses. Agricultural landscapes are characterised by high fragmentation with remnant semi-natural habitats being typically restricted to narrow field margins. These linear habitats are key to maintaining local biodiversity, but can also harbour “irruptive pest” species, such as voles. The common vole Microtus arvalis, is a main vertebrate pest in continental European farmlands, and recently invaded the inland Mediterranean agricultural landscapes of NW Spain, where regular crop-damaging outbreaks now occur. Knowing how reliant common voles are on field margins in Mediterranean agricultural landscapes would be an important step forward for more targeted management. Here we report on common vole habitat use in Mediterranean European farmland and compare them with those found in northern latitudes, thus seeking for both general patterns as well as geographical differences. We conducted seasonal trappings over 6-years in the main habitats (cereal and alfalfa crops, fallows, and their margins). We show a strong edge effect, in the form of an exponential decay in vole abundance from the margin towards the inside of fields, and vole abundances 2.3 times higher in margins that inside fields. The magnitude of this edge effect varied depending on crop type, season and vole abundance (density-dependence). Cereal crops were characterised by a stronger edge effect than alfalfas or fallows (with abundance 8–10 times higher in margins than in fields during spring and autumn). Cereals appeared as the least optimal habitat for common voles, with important spill-over of voles inside the fields in summer when densities increased. Field margins, where vegetation characteristics hardly change seasonally, provide a limited (5% of the agricultural surface) but stable habitat and key refuge for common voles in Mediterranean farmlands. Our results suggest that targeting management actions in the field margins of cereal crops during spring and autumn and inside alfalfa fields during population increases should be considered in integrated control schemes of crop-damaging common vole outbreaks. © 2016 Source

Luque-Larena J.J.,University of Valladolid | Luque-Larena J.J.,Instituto Universitario Of Investigacion En Gestion Forestal Sostenible | Mougeot F.,CSIC - Estacion Experimental De Zonas Aridas | Mougeot F.,Institute Investigacion en Recursos Cinegeticos IREC | And 7 more authors.
Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases

During the last decades, large tularemia outbreaks in humans have coincided in time and space with population outbreaks of common voles in northwestern Spain, leading us to hypothesize that this rodent species acts as a key spillover agent of Francisella tularensis in the region. Here, we evaluate for the first time a potential link between irruptive vole numbers and human tularemia outbreaks in Spain. We compiled vole abundance estimates obtained through live-trapping monitoring studies and official reports of human tularemia cases during the period 1997-2014. We confirm a significant positive association between yearly cases of tularemia infection in humans and vole abundance. High vole densities during outbreaks (up to 1000 voles/hectare) may therefore enhance disease transmission and spillover contamination in the environment. If this ecological link is further confirmed, the apparent multiannual cyclicity of common vole outbreaks might provide a basis for forecasting the risk of tularemia outbreaks in northwestern Spain. © Copyright 2015, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2015. Source

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