Potential importance of urban areas for water voles: Arvicola amphibius

Abstract

Cities are not often considered priority areas for threatened mammals; however, recent research suggests that urban areas may be important for water vole (Arvicola amphibius) conservation. To establish the potential importance of cities in supporting water vole populations, we used National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas data to examine the occurrence of water voles within the United Kingdom (UK). Water voles were recorded in 28 out of 64 official UK cities in the last decade (2010–2018), and rivers and streams within parks, sports grounds, and urban reserves were the most important habitat types. In total, we found 497 records of water vole sightings within official cities, representing 5.0% of all records for this species in the NBN Atlas. Our results show that water voles are indeed found within many cities, suggesting that urban populations of water voles are more common in the UK than previously recognised. We therefore recommend that the importance of these urban populations for conservation of this species should be further established.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

Data availability

All data is freely downloadable from the National Biodiversity Network Atlas: https://species.nbnatlas.org/species/NHMSYS0020546253.

Code availability

Not applicable.

References

  1. Blight AJ, Allcock AL, Maggs CA, Johnson MP (2009) Intertidal molluscan and algal species richness around the UK coast. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 396:235–243. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08379

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Brzeziński M, Ignatiuk P, Zmihorski M, Zalewski A (2018) An invasive predator affects habitat use by native prey: American mink and water vole co-existence in riparian habitats. J Zool 304:109–116. https://doi.org/10.1111/jzo.12500

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Carter SP, Bright PW (2003) Reedbeds as refuges for water voles (Arvicola terrestris) from predation by introduced mink (Mustela vison). Biol Conserv 111:371–376. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3207(02)00305-1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. QGIS Development Team (2015) QGIS Geographic information system. Open Source Geospatial Foundation. URL http://qgis.osgeo.org.

  5. Lundy MG, Montgomery WI (2010) A multi-scale analysis of the habitat associations of European otter and American mink and the implications for farm scale conservation schemes. Biodivers Conserv 19:3849–3859. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-010-9934-6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Mathews F, Kubasiewicz LM, Gurnell J, et al (2018) A review of the population and conservation status of British mammals. A report by the Mammal Society under contract to Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and Scottish Natural Heritage. Natural England, Peterborough

  7. McGuire C, Whitfield D (2017) National water vole database and mapping project. Part 1: Project report 2006-2015. Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Curdridge

  8. Rushton SP, Barreto GW, Cormack RM, Macdonald DW, Fuller R (2000) Modelling the effects of mink and habitat fragmentation on the water vole. J Appl Ecol 37:475–490. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2664.2000.00504.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Stewart RA, Clark TJ, Shelton J, Stringfellow M, Scott C, White SA, McCafferty DJ (2017) Urban grasslands support threatened water voles. J Urban Ecol 3:1–7. https://doi.org/10.1093/jue/jux007

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Strachan R (2004) Conserving water voles: Britain’s fastest declining mammal. Water Environ J 18:1–4. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1747-6593.2004.tb00483.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Strachan R, Jefferies DJ (1993) The water vole, Arvicola terrestris, in Britain 1989-1990: its distribution and changing status. The Vincent Wildlife Trust, London

    Google Scholar 

  12. Strachan R, Moorhouse TP, Gelling M (2011) Water vole conservation handbook, 3rd edn. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Abingdon

    Google Scholar 

  13. Strachan C, Strachan R, Jefferies DJ (2000) Preliminary report on the changes in the water vole population of Britain as shown by the national surveys of 1989 - 1990 and 1996 - 1998. The Vincent Wildlife Trust, London

    Google Scholar 

  14. Van Der Wal R, Anderson H, Robinson A et al (2015) Mapping species distributions: a comparison of skilled naturalist and lay citizen science recording. Ambio 44(Suppl4):S584–S600. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-015-0709-x

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

All authors were supported by the University of Glasgow and this study was undertaken by JAL in partial fulfillment of the MRes Ecology and Environmental Biology.

Funding

The work was funded by the Seven Lochs Wetland Park (Heritage Lottery Fund), Scottish Natural Heritage, Glasgow City Council and the Peoples’ Trust for Endangered Species.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by Jessica A. Leivesley. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Jessica A. Leivesley and all authors commented on drafts of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final version.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jessica A. Leivesley.

Ethics declarations

Conflicts of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Online Resource 1

Names of data contributors to water vole records in the National Biodiversity Network Atlas. If available, this also contains the doi of each dataset and licensing. (PDF 113 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Leivesley, J.A., Stewart, R.A., Paterson, V. et al. Potential importance of urban areas for water voles: Arvicola amphibius. Eur J Wildl Res 67, 15 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-021-01467-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Water vole
  • Urban
  • City
  • Refuges