Spatial behaviour of yellow-necked wood mouse Apodemus flavicollis in two sub-Mediterranean oak coppice stands
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Strong mutual relationships exist between rodents and ecosystems. By modifying the structure and functioning of ecosystems, human activity can affect rodent behaviour and ecology. The yellow-necked mouse Apodemus flavicollis is widespread in Europe and its spatial ecology has been studied in various habitats, but studies are lacking for Mediterranean forests often altered by forest management practices. We investigated the spatial behaviour of A. flavicollis in a sub-Mediterranean deciduous oak forest of central Italy subject to forest management. We radio-tracked 27 individuals in two different coppice stands, i.e. a recently cut area and a high forest, differing in terms of species-specific habitat quality and rodent population density. We analysed the size of home ranges in relation to habitat type and sex. Our results revealed that home range and core area size did not differ between habitat types or sexes. The spatial behaviour of A. flavicollis thus did not appear to be influenced by population density and habitat quality. The lack of sex-related differences confirms the current knowledge on the species’ spatial ecology. Our findings provide the first useful information on the spatial behaviour of A. flavicollis in sub-Mediterranean deciduous oak forests, whose ecological processes may be markedly influenced by this key-species at several trophic levels.