Small mammal responses to moose supplementary winter feeding
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Supplementary feeding of wild large herbivores is a widespread practice in North America and Europe. The presence of feeding stations may have ecological consequences through changes to animal distributions, patterns of herbivory and a net nutrient input into the ecosystem. In Fennoscandia, supplementary feeding of moose in winter (Alces alces) is increasing. Although it has been shown to affect bird communities, its effects on small mammal communities were unknown. Here, we studied the effects of moose supplementary feeding stations on plants and on abundance, reproduction, and biomass of small mammals in years with low and high vole abundance. We sampled small mammals with snap traps and conducted surveys of the field layer vegetation, at varying distances from moose supplemental feeding stations. Due to the vegetation changes induced by feeding stations, abundance of common shrews (Sorex araneus) and Microtus voles were positively affected by long-term moose winter feeding, while bank voles (Myodes glareolus) were not affected. Moose feeding stations did not affect reproduction, individual body mass, or the total biomass of small mammals. Moose winter-feeding stations have impacts on nontarget species, providing islands of preferred grass and forb habitat for Microtus spp. and common shrews, allowing them to penetrate into a matrix of less preferred forest habitat.
This is an open access article. You can find it by following this link: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10344-014-0816-1