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An assessment of seedling damage by wild house mice (Mus musculus) and wild deer mice (Peromyscus spp.)

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Abstract:

Although it is known that voles will damage seedlings, we do not know the extent to which deer mice (Peromyscus spp.) and house mice (Mus musculus Linnaeus, 1758) damage seedlings. Knowing this information can assist resource managers in better targeting problem species and implementing appropriate management actions. We planted and monitored ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Douglas ex Lawson & C. Lawson) and narrow-leaf cottonwood (Populus angustifolia E. James) seedlings in metal stock tanks occupied by deer mice or house mice to assess the potential for damage by these rodents. Both species damaged leaves and stems of cottonwood seedlings, but house mice did more damage. House mouse damage resulted in mortality of over half of the cottonwood seedlings, whereas deer mice caused a much lower level of seedling mortality. Only slight damage was done by either species to pine seedlings. Neither species damaged the roots of seedlings, despite the extensive burrowing by house mice. Although voles are often considered to be the primary rodent species causing seedling damage, we have shown that deer mice and especially house mice could also cause substantial damage to deciduous seedlings. However, our work suggests that rodent control to prevent damage to conifer seedlings might not be warranted in general unless there are extenuating circumstances and the species causing the damage are identified to assist with targeting control methods more precisely.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/x2012-065

Publication date: June 23, 2012

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