Landscape Ecology

, Volume 22, Issue 8, pp 1241–1253 | Cite as

Role of habitat and landscape in structuring small mammal assemblages in hedgerow networks of contrasted farming landscapes in Brittany, France

  • Nadia Michel
  • Françoise Burel
  • Pierre Legendre
  • Alain Butet
Research Article


In this study, we investigated the environmental factors driving small mammal (rodents and shrews) assemblages in permanent habitat patches in response to a gradient of agricultural intensification. Small mammals were sampled using a trapping standard method in the hedgerow networks of three contrasted landscapes differing by their level of land-use intensity and hedgerow network density (BOC1: slightly intensified; BOC2: moderately intensified and POL: highly intensified). We hypothesized that habitat and landscape characteristics have to be considered to understand the structure of local community. In that way, we carried out a multi-scale study using environmental variables ranging from local habitat (structure and composition of the hedgerows) to hedgerows neighbourhoods in a radius of 300 m (land cover and connectivity around hedges) and to landscape units (three sites). During 1 year, 24 hedgerows were sampled seven times, representing a total of 1,379 captures (86% of rodents and 14% of shrews) and eight species, dominated by the wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) and the bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus). Inter-site variability was significant and accounted for 18% of total variation in small mammal species abundances. But intra-site variability was also highlighted: species abundance profiles may differ greatly among hedgerows within a site. The more explanatory variables were identified at the different scales of the study: the landscape unit POL was shown to be an important factor in structuring the community, but the predominant factors explaining differences of abundances among hedgerows were about local habitat. In fact, the width of hedges and the tree species richness appeared to be significant and explaining the greatest part of the total variation of the small mammal community composition.


Biodiversity Small mammals Community Agricultural intensification Farming landscapes Habitat Multi-scale 



We thank Didier Lecoeur for the botanic survey, and Yann Rantier, Anna Lagaria, Amélie Morin, Julio Pedraza-Acosta, Sabine Debit, Virginie Leroux and Helga Hecsedi for their field assistance. We are grateful to Sébastien Durand who wrote, in the R language, the biplot function used to produce Fig. 2. Nadia Michel has been supported by a fellowship from the French Research Ministry and by a funding support from the Centre de Coopération Inter-Universitaire Franco-Québécoise. This study has been carried out in the “Zone atelier Bretagne Continentale” and in the “Site Atelier Pleine-Fougères”, France. This paper is a contribution to the research team UMR CNRS 6553 Ecobio, Rennes.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nadia Michel
    • 1
  • Françoise Burel
    • 2
  • Pierre Legendre
    • 3
  • Alain Butet
    • 2
  1. 1.Université Paris-Sud XIUnité Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution UMR - 8079 UPS-CNRS-ENGREFOrsay CedexFrance
  2. 2.Centre Armoricain de Recherche en Environnement, UMR CNRS 6553 « Ecobio »Rennes cedexFrance
  3. 3.Département de sciences biologiquesUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada

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