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Knowledge of the spatial and temporal organization of free ranging animal populations is important to an understanding not only of the social behavior between members of those populations, but also of several demographic parameters of the population, including reproduction, dispersal and mortality. Such information is particularly important when viewed in the context of pest species management. The efficacy of control practices such as rodenticide application and habitat manipulation might be greatly enhanced if performed with an understanding of the organization and status of pest populations in mind.
Early considerations of pine vole (Microtus pinetorum) spatial and temporal organization were based on the observations that several animals could be captured at 1 tree in an orchard (Hamilton 1938, Benton 1955). Paul (1970) reported a "loose colonial" organization of pine voles in his study of North Carolina populations. More recently, FitzGerald and Madison (1981) have reported preliminary observations of discrete pine vole "family-units" based on radiotelemetric data gathered in the late summer and fall seasons. The status of winter populations has not previously been investigated.
This paper presents preliminary data on the spatio-temporal patterns of a winter pine vole population. Of particular interest in this study are three questions 1) What is the composition of winter pine vole aggregations? 2) What is the range of movement of these groups? and 3) How stationary are pine voles during the winter?