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Balmelli, L., Nentwig, W. & Airoldi, J.-P. (1999). Food preferences of the common vole Microtus arvalis in the agricultural landscape with regard to nutritional components of plants. Z.
 

Summary: Balmelli, L., Nentwig, W. & Airoldi, J.-P. (1999). Food preferences of the common vole
Microtus arvalis in the agricultural landscape with regard to nutritional components of plants. Z.
Säugetierkunde 64 : 154-168. (In German, English summary)
At high population densities the common vole Microtus arvalis may cause severe damage to
agricultural crops. Knowledge of its food preferences could be used to promote preferred plants
in agricultural compensation areas such as fallow fields or weedy borders to crop fields. Thus
migration into adjacent fields might be prevented. Since such migrations are more likely to occur
in winter, laboratory feeding choice tests were carried out during this season in order to
investigate the food choices of the common vole. Feeding signs in the field served for qualitative
comparisons. Plant nutritional components (nitrogen, sugar, starch, and phenolics) as well as
energy and water content were analyzed and related to plant preferences. Clear preferences
emerged from the choice trials. The most preferred plants were Hordeum vulgare (leaves),
Brassica napus (leaves) and Beta vulgaris altissima (roots) among cultivated plants, and Achillea
millefolium (leaves) and Trifolium pratense (leaves) among weed strip plants. There was no
relationship between preferences and the analyzed nutrional parameters. From the 5 most
attractive plants in laboratory tests, feeding signs in the field were observed at high frequency
only for T. pratense and B. napus. T. pratense may therefore be suitable for preventing
migrations of M. arvalis from bordering areas into rape fields.

  

Source: Airoldi, Jean-Pierre - Zoologischen Institut, Universität Bern

 

Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology