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Should we stay or should we go now? What happens to small mammals when grass is mown, and the implications for birds of prey

Lookup NU author(s): Claudia Garratt, Dr Jeroen Minderman, Professor Mark WhittinghamORCiD


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With some raptors showing widespread declines, management of grassland to enhance access to their small mammal prey may be an important conservation tool. Many small mammal species prefer long grass as a habitat that offers protection from predation, and past studies on the consequences of grass cutting to small mammals have yielded mixed results. Using live trapping, we show that although mowing grass causes a rapid decline in small mammal captures, a small proportion of captures (20%-27%) still occurred in patches of mown grass immediately after cutting. This proportion more than halved again when the cut grass that was initially left in situ was removed. We conclude that some small mammals may remain in mown areas provided some form of cover - i.e. the cut grass - is present. These findings are discussed in light of agri-environment scheme options (e.g. grass margins) that could be improved to benefit birds of prey.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Garratt CM, Minderman J, Whittingham MJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Annales Zoologici Fennici

Year: 2012

Volume: 49

Issue: 1-2

Pages: 113-122

Print publication date: 01/04/2012

ISSN (print): 0003-455X

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: Finnish Zoological and Botanical Publishing Board