Habitat Utilization Patterns of Deer Mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) in Big Creek Reserve, Big Creek, California

Authors:  Skyler J. Hackley, Samuel T. Novey, and Nicholas M. Winegar
Institution:  University of California, Santa Cruz
Date:  May 2010


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.