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Multiple factors limit use of local sites by Elliot’s short-tailed shrews (Blarina hylophaga) in tallgrass prairie

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Spatial variation in abundance has been attributed to habitat heterogeneity and patchiness. Our goal in this research was to understand what factors were associated with spatial patterns of habitat use by Elliot’s short-tailed shrews (Blarina hylophaga Elliot, 1899) in tallgrass prairie. Our modeling efforts were based on 20 years (1981–2000) of presence–absence data for shrews at each of 20 stations (local site) along 14 permanent traplines on Konza Prairie Biological Station, Kansas, USA. A logistic model accurately predicted the presence of short-tailed shrews at a local site. Probability of shrew occurrence decreased as amount of precipitation decreased, slope steepness increased, grazing increased, or burned area within 500 m of a local site increased. However, when amount of precipitation was low, area burned was high, or grazing occurred, shrews were uncommon and responded little to the other variables. Numbers of shrews were negatively related only to numbers of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus (Wagner, 1845)), a mouse that selects burned and grazed habitats that shrews avoid. Our observations suggest that multiple environmental factors limit use of local sites, whereas competition with other species does not. Our results can inform decisions related to conservation of biodiversity given management practices in this endangered ecosystem.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Division of Biology, 104 Ackert Hall, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-4901, USA. 2: Department of Statistics, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA.

Publication date: February 24, 2012

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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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