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Non-Crop Vegetation as Habitat for Rodents in the Agricultural Landscape of Pothwar Plateau, Pakistan

Non-Crop Vegetation as Habitat for Rodents in the Agricultural Landscape of Pothwar Plateau, Pakistan

Nadeem Munawar1,2*, Tariq Mahmood2, Paula Rivadeneira1, Ali Akhter2 and Saqib Mehmood2

1Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, USA 
2Department of Wildlife Management, Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan

*      Corresponding author: nadeemmunawer@gmail.com

 

ABSTRACT

The community structure and richness of rodent populations in agricultural areas are related to variables such as habitat structure and complexity, temperature, rainfall, crop productivity, predation, trampling and grazing, surrounding landscape, and succession of the natural wild vegetation. Livestock grazing, cutting, harvesting (for fuel wood and animal feed) and burning of field boundary vegetation are common practices that affect rodents and their habitat. During crop season, local farmers in the Pothwar agro-ecosystem in Pakistan do not manage wild vegetation on the field edges, and that may impact rodent populations near their fields. This study was conducted to examine the effect of adjacent non-crop vegetation on rodent populations in the Pothwar agro-ecosystem in Pakistan. Over 14 months, vegetation analysis was conducted using the quadrate method to record the vegetation around rodents’ active burrows at field boundaries. The dominant wild vegetation included Cynodon dactylon, Saccharum griffithii, Dactyloctenium aegyptium, Dichanthium annulatum, Desmostachya bipinnata, Imperata cylindrical, Ziziphus nummularia, Achyranthes aspera, Calotropis procera, Sorghum halepense and Capparis deciduas. This vegetation supported the year-round population of rodents in the Pothwar agro-ecosystem by providing shelter, cover, and food. The data suggest that further research is needed to test various ecologically-based rodent management strategies e.g. management of non-crop habitats, cleaning of crop cache in post harvested fields, management of wild natural vegetation providing food and cover during non-crop seasons that would seem essential to maintenance of habitats for rodent species in agricultural landscapes
 

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology

June

Vol. 52, Iss. 3, Pages 825-1224

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