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Animal Biodiversity and Conservation. Volume 38.1 (2015) Pages: 37-48

Clear as daylight: analysis of diurnal raptor pellets for small mammal studies

Matos, M., Alves, M., Ramos Pereira, M. J., Torres, I., Marques, S., Fonseca, C.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.32800/abc.2015.38.0037

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Abstract

Non–invasive approaches are increasingly investigated and applied in studies of small mammal assemblages because they are more cost–effective and bypass conservation and animal welfare issues. However, pellets of diurnal raptors have rarely been used for these purposes. We evaluated the potential of marsh harrier pellets (Circus aeruginosus) as a non–invasive method to sample small mammal assemblages, by comparing the results with those of sampling using Sherman live–traps and pitfalls. The three methods were applied simultaneously in an agricultural–wetland complex in NW Portugal. Estimates of species richness, diversity, evenness, abundance, and proportion of each species within the assemblage showed significant differences between the three methods. Our results suggest that the use of marsh harrier pellets is more effective in inventorying small mammal species than either of the two kinds of traps, while also avoiding any involuntary fatalities associated with the sampling of small non–volant mammals. Moreover, the analysis of pellets was the most cost–effective method. Comparison of the two trapping methodologies showed involuntary fatalities were higher in pitfalls than in Sherman traps. We discuss the advantages and flaws of the three methods, both from technical and conservational perspectives.

Keywords

Animal welfare, Circus aeruginosus, Pitfalls, Pellets, Sherman traps, Small mammals

Cite

Matos, M., Alves, M., Ramos Pereira, M. J., Torres, I., Marques, S., Fonseca, C., 2015. Clear as daylight: analysis of diurnal raptor pellets for small mammal studies. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 38: 37-48, DOI: https://doi.org/10.32800/abc.2015.38.0037

Reception date:

02/09/2014

Acceptation date:

09/02/2015

Publication date:

24/04/2015

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