Ecology of Native Mice in Row-Crop Agriculture and Implications for Ecosystem Services

Jacob L Berl, Purdue University


Identifying and evaluating multifunctional farmland management strategies is one way to achieve sustainability goals in predominantly high-input agricultural systems. Consumption of weed seeds is a well-known ecosystem service provided by invertebrate and vertebrate seed predators in many agricultural systems. In fragmented agro-ecosystems of the Midwestern United States, two species of native rodent, the prairie deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus bairdii) and white-footed mouse (P. leucopus noveboracensis ), are the dominant vertebrate seed predators in agricultural habitats. However, despite their potential importance as ecosystem service providers, little is known about their ecology in row-crop (corn and soybean) habitats. Therefore, a greater understanding of their diets and population dynamics in agricultural habitats will help elucidate the role of native mice as seed predators in fragmented agro-ecosystems. White-footed mice and prairie deer mice differed in their selection of row-crop habitats, which are seasonally and year-round resident within crop fields, respectively. Winter diets were dominated by waste grain, and when coupled with population density information, native mice are expected to provide meaningful reductions in waste grain and weed seeds. Populations were able to persist in row-crop fields with year-round reproduction despite the dynamic nature of these habitats. Future study is needed to fully quantify the ecosystem services provided by these native rodents in row-crop habitats.




Flaherty, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Wildlife Management|Ecology|Agriculture

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