Using Long-Term Volunteer Records to Examine Dormouse (Muscardinusavellanarius) Nestbox Selection.

PLoS ONE. 2013;8(6):e67986 DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0067986

 

Journal Homepage

Journal Title: PLoS ONE

ISSN: 1932-6203 (Online)

Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)

LCC Subject Category: Medicine | Science

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML, XML

 

AUTHORS


Rachel L Williams

Anne E Goodenough

Adam G Hart

Richard Stafford

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

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Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

Within ecology, there are unanswered questions about species-habitat interactions, which could potentially be resolved by a pragmatic analysis of a long-term volunteer-collected dataset. Here, we analysed 18 years of volunteer-collected data from a UK dormouse nestbox monitoring programme to determine the influence of habitat variables on nestbox choice by common dormice (Muscardinusavellanarius). We measured a range of habitat variables in a coppiced woodland in Gloucestershire, UK, and analysed these in relation to dormouse nestbox occupancy records (by dormice, other small mammals, and birds) collected by volunteers. While some characteristics of the woodland had changed over 18 years, simple transformation of the data and interpretation of the results indicated that the dataset was informative. Using stepwise regressions, multiple environmental and ecological factors were found to determine nestbox selection. Distance from the edge of the wood was the most influential (this did not change over 18 years), with boxes in the woodland interior being selected preferentially. There was a significant negative relationship with the presence of ferns (indicative of damp shady conditions). The presence of oak (a long-lived species), and the clumped structural complexity of the canopy were also important factors in the final model. There was no evidence of competition between dormice and birds or other mammals. The results provide greater understanding of artificial dormouse nest-site requirements and indicate that, in terms of habitat selection, long-term volunteer-collected datasets contribute usefully to understanding the requirements of species with an important conservation status.