Mammalian Biology

, Volume 78, Issue 4, pp 309–312 | Cite as

Long distance field crossings by hazel dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius) in fragmented landscapes

  • Alessio MortellitiEmail author
  • Luca Santarelli
  • Giulia Sozio
  • Stefano Fagiani
  • Luigi Boitani
Short Communication


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.


Homing Translocation experiment Habitat loss and fragmentation Small mammals Dispersal 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bright, P.L., MacPherson, D., 2002. Hedgerow Management, Dormice and Biodiversity. English Nature Research Report 454. English Nature, Peterborough, pp. 1–33.Google Scholar
  2. Bright, P.W., 1998. Behaviour of specialist species in habitat corridors: arboreal dormice avoid corridor gaps. Anim. Behav. 56, 1485–1490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bright, P.W., Mitchell, P., Morris, P.A., 1994. Dormouse distribution – survey techniques insular ecology and selection of sites for conservation. J. Appl. Ecol. 31, 329–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bright, P.W., Morris, P.A., 1991. Ranging and nesting behaviour of the dormouse, Muscardinus avellanarius, in diverse low-growing woodland. J. Zool. (Lond.) 224, 177–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bright, P.W., Morris, P.A., 1992. Ranging and nesting behaviour of the dormouse, Muscardinus avellanarius, in coppice-with-standard woodland. J. Zool. (Lond.) 226, 589–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bright, P.W., Morris, P.A., 1996. Why are dormice rare? A case study in conservation biology. Mammal Rev. 26, 157–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bright, P.W., Morris, P.A., Mitchell-Jones, A.J., 2006. The Dormouse Conservation Handbook, second ed. English Nature, Peterborough.Google Scholar
  8. Büchner, S., 2008. Dispersal of common dormice Muscardinus avellanarius in a habitat mosaic. Acta Theriol. 53, 259–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Capizzi, D., Battistini, M., Amori, G., 2002. Analysis of the hazel dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius, distribution in a Mediterranean fragmented woodland. Int. J. Zool. 69, 25–31.Google Scholar
  10. Juškaitis, R., 1997. Ranging and movement of the common dormouse Muscardinusavellanariusin Lithuania. Acta Theriol. 42 (2), 113–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Juškaitis, R., 2008. The Common Dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius: Ecology, Population Structure and Dynamics. Institute of Ecology of Vilnius University Publishers, Vilnius.Google Scholar
  12. Lindenmayer, D.B., Fischer, J., 2006. Habitat Fragmentation and Landscape Change: An Ecological and Conservation Synthesis. Island Press, Washington.Google Scholar
  13. Mortelliti, A., Amori, G., Capizzi, D., Cervone, C., Fagiani, S., Pollini, B., Boitani, L., 2011. Independent effects of habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and structural connectivity on the distribution of two arboreal rodents. J. Appl. Ecol. 48, 153–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Mortelliti, A., Amori, G., Capizzi, D., Rondinini, C., Boitani, L., 2010. Experimental design and taxonomic scope of fragmentation studies of European mammals: current status and future priorities. Mammal Rev. 40 (2), 125–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Mortelliti, A., Santulli Sanzo, G., Boitani, L., 2009. Species’ surrogacy for conservation planning: caveats from comparing the response of three arboreal rodents to habitat loss and fragmentation. Biodivers. Conserv. 18, 1131–1145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alessio Mortelliti
    • 1
    Email author
  • Luca Santarelli
    • 1
  • Giulia Sozio
    • 1
  • Stefano Fagiani
    • 2
  • Luigi Boitani
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology and Biotechnology “Charles Darwin”Sapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Environmental and Territorial ScienceUniversity of Milano “Bicocca”MilanoItaly

Personalised recommendations