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Abstract

The communities of small mammals were evaluated for 13 months with capture-mark-recapture methods in two Spartina-Juncus marshes of the Atlantic coast in Northampton County, Virginia. Small mammals were trapped for three days each month using live traps placed on floats on two study grids. Two rodents were numerically dominant (~90% of small mammals) there: marsh rice rat, Oryzomys palustris, and meadow vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus. Monthly estimates of population density were greater for rice rats (peak: 45/ha) than for those of meadow voles (peak: 30/ha). Survival rates were generally low, especially for rice rats, indicating highly vagile populations. Both species had greatest breeding activity in spring and autumn, with lower rates in summer and winter. Sex ratios favored males in rice rats but were unity in meadow voles. Although marsh rice rats, being semi-aquatic and capable swimmers, are more highly adapted to living in flooded marsh environments, meadow voles can thrive there too.

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