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Testing for the relative contribution of patch neighborhood, patch internal structure, and presence of predators and competitor species in determining distribution patterns of rodents in a fragmented landscape

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Factors affecting the distribution of species in fragmented landscapes, and their relative importance, are often unclear. Few studies have deliberately compared various hypotheses in relatively controlled conditions. Moreover, most studies to date have not incorporated false absences in their modeling. Following a multiple hypotheses testing framework, we tested the relative role of landscape structure, patch and neighborhood configuration, patch internal structure, presence or absence of predators, and presence or absence and abundance of potential competitor species on the occupancy patterns of three rodent species (Myodes glareolus (Schreber, 1780), Apodemus flavicollis (Melchior, 1834), Apodemus sylvaticus (L., 1758)) in a highly fragmented landscape in Tuscany, central Italy. Distribution patterns and occupancy dynamics of the three rodent species were affected by patch and patch neighborhood characteristics, as well as the vicinity of other patches occupied by the species. However, we found no relevant effect of the surrounding landscape structure, patch internal structure, predator patch use, and abundance or distribution of potential competitor species. The observed spatial correlation between populations and the evidence of colonization or extinction events suggest that a metapopulation approach could provide a good framework for understanding the long-term dynamics of these populations.

Les facteurs qui affectent la répartition des espèces dans les paysages fragmentés et leur importance relative sont souvent peu évidents. Peu d’études ont délibérément comparé diverses hypothèses dans des conditions relativement contrôlées. De plus, la plupart des études faites à ce jour n’ont pas incorporé les fausses absences dans leur modélisation. Utilisant un cadre de vérification d’hypothèses multiples, nous avons testé les rôles relatifs de la structure du paysage, de la configuration des taches et des voisinages, de la structure interne des taches, de la présence ou absence de prédateurs et de la présence ou absence d’espèces compétitrices potentielles sur les patrons d’occupation de trois espèces de rongeurs (Myodes glareolus (Schreber, 1780), Apodemus flavicollis (Melchior, 1834), Apodemus sylvaticus (L., 1758)) dans un paysage fortement fragmenté en Toscane, Italie centrale. Les patrons de répartition et la dynamique de l’occupation des trois espèces de rongeurs sont affectés par les caractéristiques des taches et du voisinage des taches et par la proximité d’autres taches occupées par les espèces, mais il y n’y a aucun effet pertinent de la structure du paysage environnant, de la structure interne des taches, de l’utilisation des taches par les prédateurs, ni de l’abondance/répartition d’espèces compétitrices potentielles. La corrélation spatiale observée entre les populations et les indications d’événements de colonisation ou extinction laisse croire qu’une approche de métapopulation pourrait fournir un excellent cadre pour comprendre la dynamique à long terme de ces populations.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2009

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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