Advances in Diversity and Conservation of Terrestrial Small Mammals

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Diversity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 January 2023) | Viewed by 16739

Special Issue Editors

Faculty of Sciences, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Bulevardul Victoriei 10, 550024 Sibiu, Romania
Interests: small mammals; population ecology; habitat selection; population dynamics; inter- and intraspecific competition; ecological statistics; multivariate analysis; fleas
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Laboratory of Mammalian Ecology, Nature Research Centre, Akademijos 2, 08412 Vilnius, Lithuania
Interests: hoofed, semi-aquatic, carnivore and small mammal ecology; threatened and invasive mammal species; large carnivores; spatial distribution; population management and computer modeling; biodiversity and ecological diversity
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Rodents (order Rodentia) represent the most diverse group of mammals, including about 40% of the extant species, and are found in vast numbers on all continents, except Antarctica, inhabiting a great variety of environments. Together with insectivores (order Eulipotyphla and order Afrosoricida), rodents are key components of terrestrial ecosystems, where they have multiple functions, acting as seed and fungus dispersers, soil aerators and bioturbators, predators of insects and other invertebrates and, most importantly, food resource for most vertebrate predators. Resultantly, they exercise direct and indirect top-down and bottom-up control on the distribution, abundance and population dynamics of other animal taxa and influence the vegetation structure. Intensification of anthropogenic habitat and climate alteration poses increased threat to the diversity of small mammals at all scales, resulting in impoverished assemblages dominated by generalist, sometimes invasive, species with limited functions in the ecosystems and thus imposing efficient conservation measures and strategies.

This Special Issue invites research papers on the diversity of terrestrial small mammals at various scales, from population (genetic diversity, mainly of rare or endemic species) to community (species richness and assemblage heterogeneity) and landscape (beta and gamma diversity) levels, and especially the relationships between the structural and functional diversity within this group. We also welcome new research and advances in small mammal conservation, papers presenting novel methods used to preserve threatened species and to enhance declining diversity at the various levels, as well as new policies and assessments of species’ threats and conservation statuses.

Dr. Ana Maria Benedek
Dr. Linas Balčiauskas
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Diversity is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Rodents
  • Insectivores
  • Species Richness
  • Alpha, Beta and Gamma Diversity Patterns
  • Functional Diversity
  • Genetic Diversity
  • Climate Change
  • Habitat Degradation
  • Conservation Biology
  • Mitigation
  • Red Lists

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Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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3 pages, 188 KiB  
Editorial
Advances in Diversity and Conservation of Terrestrial Small Mammals
Diversity 2023, 15(8), 884; https://doi.org/10.3390/d15080884 - 25 Jul 2023
Viewed by 591
Abstract
Rodents and insectivores are key components in terrestrial ecosystems [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Diversity and Conservation of Terrestrial Small Mammals)

Research

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13 pages, 4376 KiB  
Article
Size Matters: Diversity and Abundance of Small Mammal Community Varies with the Size of Great Cormorant Colony
Diversity 2023, 15(2), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/d15020220 - 03 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1208
Abstract
Cormorant colonies are often viewed negatively by fishermen and foresters due to their extremely high impact on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. In forests, the habitats of nesting territories are destroyed, with concomitant impacts on the animal communities. In 2011–2022, investigating three colonies of [...] Read more.
Cormorant colonies are often viewed negatively by fishermen and foresters due to their extremely high impact on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. In forests, the habitats of nesting territories are destroyed, with concomitant impacts on the animal communities. In 2011–2022, investigating three colonies of Great Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo), we aimed to test whether their effect on small mammals depends on colony size. In the largest colony in Lithuania, a low species richness, lower diversity and relative abundance, as well as poorer body conditions of the most abundant species was found in the nesting zone. However, once the cormorants left the nesting site, all the parameters recovered. Two small colonies had a positive impact, with higher species richness in the territory of the colony (seven and ten species), diversity (H = 1.56 and 1.49), and relative abundance (27.00 ± 2.32 and 25.29 ± 2.91 ind. per 100 trap days) compared with the control habitat (three and eight species; H = 1.65 and 0.99; 12.58 ± 1.54 and 8.29 ± 1.05 ind./100 trap-days). We conclude that up to a certain colony size, cormorant pressure is a driver of habitat succession and has similar effects on the small mammal community as other successions in disturbed habitats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Diversity and Conservation of Terrestrial Small Mammals)
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10 pages, 1669 KiB  
Article
Terrestrial and Subterranean Mammals as Reservoirs of Zoonotic Diseases in the Central Part of European Russia
Diversity 2023, 15(1), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/d15010039 - 29 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1177
Abstract
Russia has a number of historical foci of zoonotic anthropogenic diseases. In Central Russia, the Republic of Mordovia is one of such areas, a region being known to have foci of haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and tularemia. It therefore requires continuous [...] Read more.
Russia has a number of historical foci of zoonotic anthropogenic diseases. In Central Russia, the Republic of Mordovia is one of such areas, a region being known to have foci of haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and tularemia. It therefore requires continuous monitoring. The role of small terrestrial mammals as reservoirs of zoonoses has been previously proven for the region. The aim of this work is to take an integrated approach to assess the role of terrestrial and subterranean small mammals. Subterranean mammals are often not considered important reservoirs of zoonotic pathogens that cause human morbidity. Among small mammals in the wild environment, the bank vole, the yellow-necked mouse and the house mouse play important roles as vectors of zoonoses. Among wild subterranean mammals, the greater mole rat is important as a vector of tularemia and HFRS. We analyzed homogenized internal organs of these animals (lungs, spleen, kidneys). Of all samples from the greater mole rat, 83% were positive for tularemia antigens and 17% were positive forHFRS. None of the analyzed European moles had antigens of tularemia and HFRS. No double infection with both tularemia and hantavirus was detected in the subterranean mammals. Double infection was found among terrestrial mammals in the bank vole and the forest dormouse. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Diversity and Conservation of Terrestrial Small Mammals)
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13 pages, 943 KiB  
Article
The Spatial Pattern of the Two Genetic Lineages of the Field Vole in Lithuania
Diversity 2022, 14(10), 820; https://doi.org/10.3390/d14100820 - 29 Sep 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1034
Abstract
The phylogeography of the filed vole (Microtus agrestis) in Eurasia was thoroughly examined using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of the cytochrome b (cytb) gene. However, the former conclusions about genetic variability and the contact zone of eastern and western genetic [...] Read more.
The phylogeography of the filed vole (Microtus agrestis) in Eurasia was thoroughly examined using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of the cytochrome b (cytb) gene. However, the former conclusions about genetic variability and the contact zone of eastern and western genetic lineages in Lithuania were based on the analysis of a very limited number of individuals. In the present study, we examined 74 M. agrestis individuals trapped in four sites in the eastern, northern, and western parts of the country using sequence analysis of cytb and D-loop. Totals of 25 new cytb haplotypes and 19 new D-loop haplotypes were identified for this species. Higher nucleotide diversity was observed for D-loop (π = 0.01147 ± 0.00070) as compared to cytb (π = 0.00694 ± 0.00039). The phylogenetic analysis based on both loci revealed the presence of two genetic lineages, i.e., the eastern and western ones, which were mixed in Lithuanian samples, with the exception of the Rusnė site in the west of the country. Only the western lineage was observed in this island population of M. agrestis; the sample differed in low genetic variability and genetic differentiation from other investigated samples. We found D-loop to be an appropriate locus for the evaluation of the genetic variability of M. agrestis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Diversity and Conservation of Terrestrial Small Mammals)
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15 pages, 2236 KiB  
Article
Effects of Long-Term Habitat Protection on Montane Small Mammals: Are Sorex araneus and S. minutus More Sensitive Than Previously Considered?
Diversity 2022, 14(1), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/d14010038 - 08 Jan 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1668
Abstract
Protection of natural areas by restricting human activities aims to preserve plant and animal populations and whole communities, ensuring the conservation of biological diversity and enhancement of ecosystem services. Therefore, it is expected that the longer the protection, the stronger the desired effects. [...] Read more.
Protection of natural areas by restricting human activities aims to preserve plant and animal populations and whole communities, ensuring the conservation of biological diversity and enhancement of ecosystem services. Therefore, it is expected that the longer the protection, the stronger the desired effects. We evaluated the responses of small mammals at the population and community levels under protection in the southern Carpathian Mountains. We surveyed small mammals for five years in sites with long- and short-term protection and non-protected. Besides protection status, we included elevation, habitat heterogeneity, and the month of survey as predictors in our models. As response variables, we considered abundance, presence, species composition and species richness. Community abundance responded to all four predictors and species composition was influenced by protection status and month of study. The shrews Sorex araneus and S. minutus had positive responses to protection, both in terms of abundance and relative abundance (their ratio within the community). Our results suggest that overall, montane small mammal communities respond positively to long-term protection, especially S. araneus and S. minutus. These shrew species are considered habitat generalists, but they appear to be in fact sensitive to the habitat quality enhanced through protection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Diversity and Conservation of Terrestrial Small Mammals)
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13 pages, 2297 KiB  
Article
Diversity and Diet Differences of Small Mammals in Commensal Habitats
Diversity 2021, 13(8), 346; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13080346 - 28 Jul 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1870
Abstract
The stability of diversity of syntopic (inhabiting the same habitat in the same time) small mammals in commensal habitats, such as farmsteads and kitchen gardens, and, as a proxy of their diet, their isotopic niches, was investigated in Lithuania in 2019–2020. We tested [...] Read more.
The stability of diversity of syntopic (inhabiting the same habitat in the same time) small mammals in commensal habitats, such as farmsteads and kitchen gardens, and, as a proxy of their diet, their isotopic niches, was investigated in Lithuania in 2019–2020. We tested whether the separation of species corresponds to the trophic guilds, whether their diets are related to possibilities of getting additional food from humans, and whether their diets are subject to seasonal trends. We analyzed diversity, dominance and distribution of hair δ13C and δ15N values. Diversity and dominance was not stable and differed according to human influence. The highest small mammal species richness occurred in commensal habitats that provided additional food. The degree of separation of species was higher in homestead habitats than in kitchen gardens, where a 1.27% to 35.97% overlap of isotopic niches was observed between pairs of species. Temporal changes in δ13C and δ15N values in the hair of the mammals were not equally expressed in different species. The isotopic overlap may depend on dietary plasticity, minimizing interspecific competition and allowing co-existence of syntopic species. Thus, small mammal trophic ecology is likely related to intensity of agricultural activities in the limited space of commensal habitats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Diversity and Conservation of Terrestrial Small Mammals)
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11 pages, 1277 KiB  
Article
Common Vole as a Focal Small Mammal Species in Orchards of the Northern Zone
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 134; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030134 - 20 Mar 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2228
Abstract
In 2018–2020, we performed a country-wide study of small mammals in commercial orchards and berry plantations with the aim of determining whether the common vole (Microtus arvalis) is a more suitable focal species than the field vole (M. agrestis) [...] Read more.
In 2018–2020, we performed a country-wide study of small mammals in commercial orchards and berry plantations with the aim of determining whether the common vole (Microtus arvalis) is a more suitable focal species than the field vole (M. agrestis) in the risk assessment of plant protection products in Lithuania (country of the Northern Zone). Common vole was present in 75% of orchards and in 80% of control habitats, accounting for 30% of all trapped individuals. The proportion of this species was stable between years and seasons. The pattern was in agreement with the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, i.e., highest in medium-aged crops, while lowest in habitats with high intensities of agricultural practices. The average relative abundance of common vole in autumn, 2.65 ± 0.52 individuals per 100 trap days, was three times higher than that in summer, with no differences recorded between crops and control habitats. Field vole was present in 30% of locations, only accounting for 2.1% of all trapped individuals. In central and eastern European countries, common vole is more widespread and abundant than field vole. In Lithuania, common vole dominates in orchards and natural habitats and is, therefore, the most relevant small mammal species for higher tier risk assessment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Diversity and Conservation of Terrestrial Small Mammals)
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Review

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39 pages, 2818 KiB  
Review
Gaps in Monitoring Leave Northern Australian Mammal Fauna with Uncertain Futures
Diversity 2022, 14(3), 158; https://doi.org/10.3390/d14030158 - 23 Feb 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 5409
Abstract
Northern Australian biomes hold high biodiversity values within largely intact vegetation complexes, yet many species of mammals, and some other taxa, are endangered. Recently, six mammal species were added to the 20 or so already listed in the Australian endangered category. Current predictions [...] Read more.
Northern Australian biomes hold high biodiversity values within largely intact vegetation complexes, yet many species of mammals, and some other taxa, are endangered. Recently, six mammal species were added to the 20 or so already listed in the Australian endangered category. Current predictions suggest that nine species of mammal in northern Australia are in imminent danger of extinction within 20 years. We examine the robustness of the assumptions of status and trends in light of the low levels of monitoring of species and ecosystems across northern Australia, including monitoring the effects of management actions. The causes of the declines include a warming climate, pest species, changed fire regimes, grazing by introduced herbivores, and diseases, and work to help species and ecosystems recover is being conducted across the region. Indigenous custodians who work on the land have the potential and capacity to provide a significant human resource to tackle the challenge of species recovery. By working with non-Indigenous researchers and conservation managers, and with adequate support and incentives, many improvements in species’ downward trajectories could be made. We propose a strategy to establish a network of monitoring sites based on a pragmatic approach by prioritizing particular bioregions. The policies that determine research and monitoring investment need to be re-set and new and modified approaches need to be implemented urgently. The funding needs to be returned to levels that are adequate for the task. At present resourcing levels, species are likely to become extinct through an avoidable attrition process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Diversity and Conservation of Terrestrial Small Mammals)
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