Livestock grazing intensity affects abundance of Common shrews (Sorex araneus) in two meadows in Denmark
1 Section for Climate Effects and System Modelling, Department of Arctic Environment, National Environmental Research Institute, University of Aarhus, Frederiksborgvej 399, PO Box 358, DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark
2 Section of Zoology, Department of Ecology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Thorvaldsensvej 40, DK-1871 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
3 Danish Pest Infestation Laboratory, University of Aarhus, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Integrated Pest Management, Skovbrynet 14, DK-2800 Kongens Lyngby, Denmark
4 Evolutionary Ecology Group, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Groenenborgerlaan 171, B-2020 Antwerpen, Belgium
BMC Ecology 2009, 9:2 doi:10.1186/1472-6785-9-2Published: 20 January 2009
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.
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.
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.