Continuous breeding of fossorial water voles in northwestern Spain: Potential impact on apple orchards

Aitor Somoano, Jacint Ventura, Marcos Miñarro

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17 Citations (Scopus)


© 2017, Czech Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. The montane water vole, Arvicola scherman, can be found at low altitude in northwestern Spain, where it has become a key pest in apple orchards. Its sustainable control entails the knowledge of its reproduction pattern, which is unknown for this region. Thus, we conducted a study on more than 800 voles caught monthly over two years in apple orchards located in Asturias. Sexual characteristics, body measurements and relative age class were recorded. Intra-annual changes in body mass, testicular volume and seminal vesicle length of males did not affect significantly reproduction at a population scale, since pregnant females were detected over the whole year and their occurrence did not show significant intra-annual differences. Consequently, the recruitment of young specimens was also continuous during the study period. Mild temperatures, even in winter, and ample food all the year around presumably meets the demands of physiological cost of continuous reproduction of A. scherman in this area. The implications of our results for facing this vole control in this agroecosystem are discussed. Furthermore, the information here reported might be useful to accurately assess the effect of sustainable control strategies on the reproductive biology of fossorial water voles in this and in similar environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-49
JournalFolia Zoologica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Arvicola scherman cantabriae
  • Population structure
  • Reproduction
  • Rodent pest management


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