Small Mammal Diversity Changes in a Baltic Country, 1975-2021: A Review

Life (Basel). 2022 Nov 14;12(11):1887. doi: 10.3390/life12111887.


The structure and diversity of small mammal (SM) communities over the long term may show the influences of climate change, landscape changes and local disturbances. We review published data regarding SM trapping and owl pellet analysis from Lithuania (the most southerly of the three Baltic States, Northern Europe), covering the period 1975-2021. Over decades, we analysed trends in the diversity of SM communities and the proportions of species and proportions of trophic groups. The large increase in granivores, from 6.9% in 1975-1980 to 45.4% in 2011-2020 and 54.7% in 2021, coincided with a decrease in omnivores and insectivores. The proportion of herbivores increased less notably. At the species level, significant decreases in the proportions of M. arvalis, C. glareolus and S. araneus were accompanied by notable increases in the proportions of A. flavicollis and A. agrarius, the latter from 1.0% in 1975-1980 to 25.3% in 2021. Concluding, two periods were identified, specifically before the 1990s and subsequently. In the second period, in the aftermath of land-use changes within the country in 1990, diversity increased, and dominance decreased, a situation that has not subsequently changed. Not excluding the concomitant effects of climate change, we relate these patterns to the alterations in habitat and anthropogenic impact.

Keywords: community structure; diversity trends; long-term; small mammals; trophic groups.

Publication types

  • Review

Grant support

This research was done under the long-term research program of Nature Research Centre with no external funding.