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      Differential responses of prairie rodents to edge effects from recreational trails

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      Nature Conservation

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Edge effects are a common phenomenon in which an ecological variable changes with respect to distance from a habitat edge. Recreational trails may constitute a habitat edge for prairie rodents because of high human presence, high predator presence, or limited shelter compared to the prairie core. Despite the prevalence of trails in conservation parcels, their effect on wildlife distribution remains largely unstudied. We examined the impacts of recreational trails on small mammal activity in the restored prairies of the Cowling Arboretum at Carleton College. The prairies were restored from 1995 to 2008 and now comprise a contiguous prairie block of approximately 155 ha. Over 2 consecutive summers, we used infrared motion-sensing cameras to record the relative amount of time rodents spend at baited stations placed at different distances from the trail. The results varied between taxa: voles (Microtus spp.) avoided trail edges whereas mouse (Cricetidae and Dipodidae) and thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus) activity was unaffected by trail proximity. Trails may therefore have species-specific effects on small mammals, with potential consequences for the connectivity and distribution of populations.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Nature Conservation
          NC
          Pensoft Publishers
          1314-3301
          1314-6947
          September 10 2020
          September 10 2020
          : 41
          : 113-140
          Article
          10.3897/natureconservation.41.52100
          © 2020

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