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Niels Martin Schmidt

Livestock grazing intensity affects abundance of Common shrews (Sorex araneus) in two meadows in Denmark

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  • Niels Martin Schmidt
  • Henrik Olsen, Sect. of Zoology, Dept. of Ecology, KU-Life, Denmark
  • Herwig Leirs, Denmark
  • Department of Integrated Pest Management
  • Danish Pest Infestation Laboratory
  • Department of Arctic Environment

Background: Current nature conservation in semi-natural grasslands often includes grazing and Current nature conservation in semi-natural grasslands often includes grazing and hay cutting, as well as the abandonment of draining. Semi-natural grassland and in particular meadows constitute important habitat type for a large number of animal species in today's fragmented and intensively cultivated landscape of Europe. Here we focus on the population characteristics of Common shrews Sorex araneus in relation to livestock grazing intensity in two wet meadows in western Denmark.

Results: High grazing intensity had a significant negative effect on Common shrew number High grazing intensity had a significant negative effect on Common shrew number compared to low grazing intensity and no grazing. Common shrew abundance was generally, but  not significantly, higher on the low grazing intensity plots than on the ungrazed controls. No differences in body mass, sex ratio, or reproductive output between Common shrew individuals from the various grazing treatments were found.

Conclusion: No negative effects of low intensity grazing on Common shrew abundance were No negative effects of low intensity grazing on Common shrew abundance were found compared to the ungrazed control. Low intensity grazing thus seems a suitable management regime for Common shrews, when grazing is needed as part of the meadow management scheme. High intensity grazing on the other hand is not a suitable management tool.

Background

In Denmark as well as in most other European countries,

the amount of land covered by semi-natural grassland has

decreased dramatically during the 20th century concurrent

with the general intensification of the agricultural production.

To reverse this trend, actions are being taken in many

places to either maintain or re-establish this biotope, and

in particular, the meadow community. Today's nature

conservation is a return to the old extensive agricultural

methods, and includes grazing and hay cutting, as well as

the abandonment of draining. Semi-natural grassland and

in particular meadows constitute important habitat types

for a large number of animal species in today's fragmented

and intensively cultivated landscape in Europe.

Hay cutting and livestock grazing is known to affect a

number of organisms, but the response to grazing may

vary across classes of organisms and with the intensity of

Published: 20 January 2009

BMC Ecology 2009, 9:2 doi:10.1186/1472-6785-9-2

2009, :2 doi:10.1186/1472-6785-9-2

Received: 27 May 2008

Accepted: 20 January 2009

This article is available from: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6785/9/2

© 2009 Schmidt et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0),

which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Original languageEnglish
JournalB M C Ecology
Volume9
Issue2
Number of pages6
ISSN1472-6785
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2009

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