The Influence of Meadow Moisture Levels on Activity of Small Mammal Nest Predators in the Sierra Nevada, California
Authors: M. C. Cocimano, M. L. Morrison, H. A. Mathewson, and L. M. Vormwald
High nest predation rates are one of the main sources of nesting failure in passerines. Mountain meadows in the Sierra Nevada have been intensively modified, reducing meadow wetness and potentially favoring easy access for mammalian predators to reach nesting areas in the meadow interior. We conducted mammal trapping in wet and dry areas of montane meadows during May through August of 2007 and 2008 to identify the assemblage of potential mammalian nest predators and determine the relationship between activity and meadow wetness. Chipmunk (Tamias spp.) activity was primarily restricted to dry areas. Activity of Yellow-pine Chipmunks (Tamias amoenus) was >90% higher in dry versus wet areas. Deer Mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) were equally active in both site types in 2007, but declined and were only captured in wet areas in 2008. Overall activity was higher in 2007 and 2008 for both wet and dry areas (68% and 52%, respectively). Our results suggest that increasing the proportion of inundated areas in meadows may reduce small mammal activity (for instance Yellow-pine Chipmunks) and potentially reduce nest predation.
Cocimano, M. C., M. L. Morrison, H. A. Mathewson, and L. M. Vormwald. 2011. The Influence of Meadow Moisture Levels on Activity of Small Mammal Nest Predators in the Sierra Nevada, California. Northwestern Naturalist 92:50–56.