Using capture/recapture methods, we examined the spatial usage patterns of Microtus pennsylvanicus within and between experimentally created habitat patches of three sizes (1.0, 0.25 and 0.0625 ha) and between a 20-ha fragmented and a 20-ha continuous habitat landscape. We tested the prediction that home ranges near patch edges would be qualitatively different from those in patch interiors, and that the edge:interior habitat ratio could be used to make predictions concerning the dispersion and spatial use of individuals occupying different sized patches and between landscapes with different habitat structure. We found adult females on patch edges to have larger and more exclusive home ranges, larger body sizes, longer residence times, and to reproduce at a higher frequency than those in patch interiors. These “edge effects” also appeared to be largely responsible for the greater proportion of larger, reproductive females we found in small than larger patches and in the fragmented than in the continuous habitat (control) landscape. The selection of higher quality edge habitats by dominant females and the relegation of sub-dominants to patch interiors provides an explanation for the observed differences in the distribution and performance of females over patches and between landscapes.
Oecologia – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 1, 1996
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