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. 2017 Oct;63(5):515-523.
doi: 10.1093/cz/zow109. Epub 2016 Nov 8.

Long-term Data From a Small Mammal Community Reveal Loss of Diversity and Potential Effects of Local Climate Change

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Free PMC article

Long-term Data From a Small Mammal Community Reveal Loss of Diversity and Potential Effects of Local Climate Change

Simone Santoro et al. Curr Zool. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Climate change affects distribution and persistence of species. However, forecasting species' responses to these changes requires long-term data series that are often lacking in ecological studies. We used 15 years of small mammal trapping data collected between 1978 and 2015 in 3 areas at Doñana National Park (southwest Spain) to (i) describe changes in species composition and (ii) test the association between local climate conditions and size of small mammal populations. Overall, 5 species were captured: wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus, algerian mouse Mus spretus, greater white-toothed shrew Crocidura russula, garden dormouse Eliomys quercinus, and black rat Rattus rattus. The temporal pattern in the proportion of captures of each species suggests that the small mammal diversity declined with time. Although the larger species (e.g., E. quercinus), better adapted to colder climate, have disappeared from our trapping records, M. spretus, a small species inhabiting southwest Europe and the Mediterranean coast of Africa, currently is almost the only trapped species. We used 2-level hierarchical models to separate changes in abundance from changes in probability of capture using records of A. sylvaticus in all 3 areas and of M. spretus in 1. We found that heavy rainfall and low temperatures were positively related to abundance of A. sylvaticus, and that the number of extremely hot days was negatively related to abundance of M. spretus. Despite other mechanisms are likely to be involved, our findings support the importance of climate for the distribution and persistence of these species and raise conservation concerns about potential cascading effects in the Doñana ecosystem.

Keywords: N-mixture models; climate change; count data; rodents; spain.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Study area. The 3 study sites position within the DNP (delimited by borders) located in southern Spain.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
Number of captures (per 1,000 traps/day) by species for each trapping campaign.
Figure 3.
Figure 3.
Predicted abundance (full black circles), and total captures (full black triangles) for Apodemus sylvaticus and Mus spretus. Abundance was estimated by the lowest AICc abundance model. Predictors of species abundance were: (i) for A. sylvaticus at San Agustin the daily mean temperature, (ii) for A. sylvaticus at Las Pajareras the total autumn rainfall, (iii) for A. sylvaticus at Las Monjas the total autumn rainfall, and (iv) for Mus spretus at Las Monjas the number of extremely hot days in autumn. Beside each point the estimated value of the corresponding predictor is shown.

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