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Understanding conservation conflicts associated with rodent outbreaks in farmland areas

  • Valentin LauretEmail author
  • Miguel Delibes-Mateos
  • François Mougeot
  • Beatriz Arroyo-Lopez
Research Article


Rodent outbreaks affect many farmland areas worldwide and the negative environmental impacts of control campaigns cause intense social tensions. In such conservation conflicts, understanding stakeholders’ viewpoints is critical to promote ecologically sustainable management. We used Q-methodology, a framework standing between qualitative and quantitative social research, to investigate human subjectivity and understand conflicts caused by rodent outbreaks in Spain. We interviewed farmers, conservationists, hunters, and governmental agencies, and identified five main discourses about the origins and consequences of the conflictive situation. Finding sustainable management is impaired by opposing views about causes and consequences of vole outbreaks and their management, which are at the root of the conflict. Social tensions will likely remain until the underlying conflicts between people holding different views are also managed. Decision-making should therefore focus on mitigating underlying conflicts. Using trained independent mediators would help the effective resolution of conservation conflicts caused by rodent outbreaks and their management.


Farmland pest Human dimensions Microtus arvalis Socioecological systems Sustainable conservation Wildlife management 



We are grateful to all the respondents of this study for their cooperation. We warmly thank Juan José Luque-Larena for his help with the fieldwork, and for reviewing the pilot Q-samples. V.L had a full-time salary funded by the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon.

Supplementary material

13280_2019_1256_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (637 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 638 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CEFE, Univ Montpellier, CNRS, Univ Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, EPHE, IRDMontpellierFrance
  2. 2.Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (IREC), CSIC-UCLM-JCCMCiudad RealSpain
  3. 3.Département de BiologieEcole Normale Supérieure de LyonLyonFrance
  4. 4.Instituto de Estudios Sociales Avanzados (IESA-CSIC)CórdobaSpain
  5. 5.Departamento de Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Facultad de BiologíaUniversidad de SevillaSevilleSpain

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