Habitat Utilization Patterns of Deer Mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) in Big Creek Reserve, Big Creek, California
Past studies on rodent population dynamics have narrowed down the mechanisms driving population fluctuations to single-factor theories such as the effects of resource pulses and top-down trophic cascades. The variation in rodent population dynamics across regional and climatic gradients, however, calls for a more holistic approach that takes into consideration mutiple site-specific factors. To that end, the effects of shelter availability and diversity of food-producing plants on Peromyscus activity were tested across three habitat types along a watershed in Big Sur, California. Significant differences in rodent activity were found across all treatments, with more activity in areas with abundant shelter and greater diversity of food-producing plants. These findings support multi-factor theories of rodent population fluctuations, and provide a snapshot of late Spring habitat preferences of Peromyscus species in Big Sur, California.