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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Using Endophytic Grasses to Reduce Small Mammal Populations

  • Author(s): Witmer, Gary;
  • Pipas, Michael J.
  • et al.

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Additional methods and integrated strategies to reduce damage by voles and other small rodents are needed, especially where rodenticides cannot be readily used. This field study examined if fields vegetated with endophytic grasses (i.e., grasses infected with the fungi, Acremonium spp. or Neotyphodium spp.) which produce alkaloids that impair herbivory, resulted in lower abundance or impaired reproduction of small mammals. We also determined if small mammals inhabiting fields with endophytic grasses had impaired capabilities (i.e., smaller body size and body condition). A lower abundance of small mammals in fields of endophytic grasses was evident. However, there appeared to be very little difference in the size, body condition, and pregnancy rates of small mammals from either field type. These results suggested that endophytic varieties of grasses could be used reduce population numbers of rodents, thereby reducing human-wildlife conflicts resulting from overabundance of rodents.

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