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Occurrence of Rodent Species in Agricultural Lands during Cropping and Non-Cropping Seasons of Pothwar Plateau, Pakistan

Occurrence of Rodent Species in Agricultural Lands during Cropping and Non-Cropping Seasons of Pothwar Plateau, Pakistan

Nadeem Munawar, Iftikhar Hussain and Tariq Mahmood*

Department of Wildlife Management, PMAS-Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi

*      Corresponding author: tariqjanjua75@uaar.edu.pk

 

ABSTRACT

Rodents form an important component of biodiversity of the agricultural lands and have been identified as destructive mammalian pests of agricultural crops at global level. They cause severe damage to various crops, directly and indirectly, by gnawing, spoilage, contamination and hoarding activities. The current study investigated the occurrence of different rodent species inside the crop fields and at field edges, associated with four major crops (wheat, groundnut, millet and maize) in the Pothwar Plateau. In all four crops, maximum number of rodent burrows was recorded at maturity stages of the crops. The maturity stage of wheat crop coincided with spring breeding season while the maturity stages of millet/maize and groundnut matched with monsoon/autumn breeding peak of the rodents in the study area. The burrow density recorded inside the wheat crop at various stages of growth and in uncultivated fields was significantly higher than those on field boundaries. The overall comparison of the rodent burrows occurrence in groundnut crop indicated a significantly higher number inside the crop as compared to the field edges at maturity stage. Similarly, maturity stage of the millet and maize crops attracted significantly higher population of rodents. On the other hand, at post-harvested and un-ploughed/non-crop fallow fields, higher number of rodent burrows were recorded on the field edges under wild vegetation which provided shelter and cover to the rodents. The study suggests that agricultural operations such as land preparation, ploughing, weeding, removal of crop cache and cutting of wild vegetation, should be encouraged to prevent establishment of rodent populations. Deep ploughing of fields immediately after harvest of crops would destroy the rodent burrow system and may expose animals to increased predation by raptors and other predators.
 

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology

August

Vol. 50, Iss. 4, Pages 1199-1600

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