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.
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All data is freely downloadable from the National Biodiversity Network Atlas: https://species.nbnatlas.org/species/NHMSYS0020546253.
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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.
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.
Conflicts of interests
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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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
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