Influence of movement corridors on enclosed populations of the gray-tailed vole : do immigrants affect reproduction and dispersal of residents in a patchy environment? Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/8k71nn38f

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  • I monitored demography, movement, and reproductive behavior of gray-tailed voles, Microtus canicaudus, in experimental habitat patches with and without corridors. I tested the hypotheses that reproductive rate, juvenile recruitment, and population size and growth rate would be affected negatively by immigrants that were introduced to resident groups (+ male and + female treatments). I hypothesized that "strangers" would commit infanticide thus decreasing juvenile recruitment. Second, I determined if movement corridors facilitated dispersal among habitat patches, thus potentially increasing infanticide, but decreasing reproductive inhibition of opposite-sex relatives by allowing them to separate (corridor treatment). Experiments were conducted in 12 0.2 ha enclosures planted with alfalfa that was fragmented into four patches (each 156 m²) separated by 12.5 m of bare ground. Introduction of unfamiliar conspecifics did not adversely affect reproductive rate, juvenile recruitment, population size, density, or growth rate. Corridors facilitated dispersal movements with males moving more than did females; however, corridors did not result in an even distribution of animals in the four patches. Unconnected habitat patches resulted in female- rather than the typical male-biased dispersal and females dispersed at lower body mass than in controls. Males that did not disperse from their natal patch exhibited a slight delay in sexual maturation. I conclude that movement is deterred in patchy environments, enhanced with corridors, and differentially affects males and females. Behavioral factors that affect an individual's dispersal or reproductive pattern should be considered in landscape planning.
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