Urban grasslands support threatened water voles

Stewart, R. A., Clark, T. J., Shelton, J., Stringfellow, M., Scott, C., White, S. A. and McCafferty, D. J. (2017) Urban grasslands support threatened water voles. Journal of Urban Ecology, 3(1), jux007. (doi: 10.1093/jue/jux007)

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Urbanisation is often linked with habitat loss and a reduction in species richness but some species may be able to adapt to urban environments. Water voles Arvicola amphibius, a rapidly declining species in the UK, have recently been recorded in isolated grassland habitats in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city (human population 1.2 million). The aim of this study was to determine the distribution and habitat characteristics of water vole populations occupying these dry grasslands. Field work was undertaken from March to October 2014 in a 34 km2 study area located 3 km east of the city centre. Field sign transects recorded water vole presence in 21/65 (32%) and 19/62 (31%) surveyed sites in spring and autumn, respectively. Vole occupancy increased with distance from water and was greatest in parkland, followed by sites with rank vegetation and roadside habitats. Occupancy was lower where signs of predators were recorded but surprisingly occupancy was found to be greater in the most disturbed sites, perhaps linked to the fact that many of these sites were public parks containing suitable grassland. Sites occupied by water voles were classed as neutral grasslands with species composition dominated by two main species. The number of grassland sites occupied by water voles, especially within public areas suggests that careful management of these urban grassland habitats will benefit the conservation of this highly threatened species in the UK.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McCafferty, Dr Dominic and Stewart, Ms Robyn and White, Dr Stewart
Authors: Stewart, R. A., Clark, T. J., Shelton, J., Stringfellow, M., Scott, C., White, S. A., and McCafferty, D. J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Journal of Urban Ecology
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):2058-5543
Published Online:28 August 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Urban Ecology 3(1):jux007
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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