Long distance field crossings by hazel dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius) in fragmented landscapes
The hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) is an arboreal species with suspected limited capabilities of moving over open ground. To date, however, only one study has investigated gap crossing capabilities in an experimental manner. We here report the results of an empirical assessment of hazel dormice gap crossing capabilities by means of a translocation study. We translocated 12 dormice, 10 in completely isolated patches and 2 in a hedgerow. Our results show how, at least under conditions of an experimental homing, hazel dormice may abandon forest areas and cross open fields (with grass or mowed) travelling up to 106 m. In most cases the gap crossing was relatively quick (concluded within one night) but in one case it lasted several days. The results of our experiment suggest that a stepping stone approach to connectivity may be a possible management strategy where it is not possible to implement a continuous network of hedgerows.
KeywordsHoming Translocation experiment Habitat loss and fragmentation Small mammals Dispersal
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