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Book Chapter

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Publication Title

Biology of New World Microtus

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COMMUNITIES with Microtus tend to be structurally simple, usually grasslands or tundra, and to have no more than two species of Microtus and rarely more than six species of small mammals. Microtus often dominates both numerically and in total small mammal biomass, especially at higher latitudes. The small mammal community is most influenced by Microtus through its fluctuations in density, and thus also in biomass, by its relatively high level of diurnal activity, and by its year-round activity. Other species of small mammals may be adversely affected because Microtus usually is larger and behaviorally dominant and also because the mere presence of Microtus may focus predators on the area, especially during periods of high density. As generalized herbivores, primarily on grasses and herbs, Microtus has the potential to alter plant communities, either by selectively harvesting some species or through stimulating growth by grazing. Scarcely anything is known about the role Microtus plays in plant and small mammal communities, so both descriptive and experimental studies can make significant contributions to an understanding of the role and impact Microtus has on its communities.


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Original Publication Citation

Rose, R. K., & Birney, E. C. (1985). Community Ecology. In R. H. Tamarin (Ed.), Biology of New World Microtus (pp. 310-339). American Society of Mammalogists.


0000-0001-9341-1615 (Rose)


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