Effect of Rock Cover on Small Mammal Abundance in a Montana Grassland

Volume 17, No. 1-4, Manuscript

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Montana, University of Montana, deer mice, peromyscus maniculatus, hantavirus, Sin Nombre virus, SNV, abundance

Scientific Disciplines

Biological Sciences - Terrestrial

Abstract Text

We examined the influence of rock cover, as an indicator of presumable retreat site availability on the abundance of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) and prevalence of Sin Nombre virus (SNV) using long-term live trapping and habitat data from three live trapping grids and a shortterm (three month), spatially replicated study across three slopes in Cascade County, Montana. In our long-term study, we found that deer mice were more abundant at a live-trapping grid with greater rock cover, than two grids with less rock cover. There was a non-significant trend (P = 0.053) for deer mice to be more abundant in rocky sites in the short term study. In the long-term study, average SNV antibody prevalence among deer mice was slightly greater (5.0 vs. 3.5 % on average) at the live trapping grid with more rock cover, than the grid with less rock cover. We were unable to demonstrate differences in SNV antibody prevalence among treatments in the short-term study. Further studies are needed to elucidate the multiple determinants of deer mouse abundance and SNV prevalence in grassland ecosystem and other habitat types.

Meeting Info

Financial support was provided by NIH grant P20 RR16455-06-07,08 from the INBRE- BRIN program of the National Center for Research Resources and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, through cooperative agreement. K. Richardson was additionally supported by a grant from the Montana Tech Undergraduate Research Program.


Richardson, Kyle, Scott Carver, Richard Douglass, and Amy Kuenzi. 2011. Effect of Rock Cover on Small Mammal Abundance in a Montana Grassland. Intermountain Journal of Sciences 17(1-4): 21-29.