Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Small Rodents Discourage Oak And Pine Forests And Encourage Formation Of Scrubland In Spain

Date:
August 27, 2009
Source:
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Summary:
After two years of research over five degraded landscapes in the National Park of Sierra Nevada, scientists have established that field mice base their diet on holm oak and pine seeds, causing a deterioration of the habitats and an extension of scrubland in the forests.

This is the shrub, Crataegus.
Credit: Luis Matías/ SINC

After two years of research over five degraded landscapes in the National Park of Sierra Nevada (Granada), scientists have established that field mice base their diet on holm oak and pine seeds, causing a deterioration of the habitats and an extension of scrubland in the forests.

The trees in the forests such as the holm oaks, rowans and pines have unexpected predators which are impeding their expansion over the mountains. In 98.5% of cases it is field mice and other rodents which eat a large proportion of the seeds which have been scattered before they are able to germinate.

Luis Matías is the main author of the work and a researcher for the Land Ecology Research Group at the University of Granada. "If the choice of the seeds they eat is not random, in other words, they eat the seeds of a determined species more often, this will be reflected in a greater emergence of seedlings among those species which are eaten less, which could alter the structure of the plant community", he told SINC.

Between 2004 and 2005, the research team exposed the seeds of six species to the predators and analyzed the numbers which were eaten. "Some species were ravaged much more than others, and this selection pattern was maintained in the different habitats throughout the two years of study", explained Matías.

The new research, recently published in Plant Ecology, shows that this phenomenon is constant in time and in the different landscapes and habitats. In this sense, according to the researchers, "the species which undergo the highest rate of depredation are the dominant arboreal species (the pine, holm oak and rowan), while the scrubland species suffer much less consumption".

Pine and holm oak seeds, the favourite food

The rodents prefer the seeds from the holm oak, quercus ilex, of which a total of 77.4% are eaten, the pine, pinus sylvestris, (73.3%), and the rowan, sorbus aria, (69.2%). The mice prefer the seeds of these particular trees to those of the scrubland owing to their components, as those from the holm oak contain a high percentage of lipids.

As a result of eating fewer scrubland seeds, the rodents encourage the formation of a plant structure dominated by scrubland. "Curiously, it is the scrubland where the rodents are most abundant, as they find food and shelter from their predators there", the scientist clarified. In other words, the seed predators favour the habitat which is most propitious for them.

However, the scientists conclude that longer experiments are required because "the uses of the soil and the selection of food by the rodents may vary from year to year, depending on the availability of food resources, the abundance of rodents and their predators and the climatic conditions".


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Matías et al. Consistent pattern of habitat and species selection by post-dispersal seed predators in a Mediterranean mosaic landscape. Plant Ecology, 2009; 203 (1): 137 DOI: 10.1007/s11258-008-9518-7

Cite This Page:

FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. "Small Rodents Discourage Oak And Pine Forests And Encourage Formation Of Scrubland In Spain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090827101209.htm>.
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. (2009, August 27). Small Rodents Discourage Oak And Pine Forests And Encourage Formation Of Scrubland In Spain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090827101209.htm
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. "Small Rodents Discourage Oak And Pine Forests And Encourage Formation Of Scrubland In Spain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090827101209.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) — An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) — The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) — A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) — ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins