Nebraska Academy of Sciences


Date of this Version



Published in Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Volume 3 (1976).


Copyright 1976 by author(s).


Several small mammal species collected from southern Lancaster and northeastern Saline Counties, Nebraska showed variations in relative abundance and habitat preference from that recorded in the literature. The masked shrew (Sorex dnereus) was found in riparian and upland communities. The western harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis) (60 per cent of all captures) was the most abundant species in the area. The meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) occurred in perennial grass upland areas, and the prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster) was found in annual grass and forb habitats. One species of vole was found to seldom frequent the others habitat.


The small mammal fauna in this study was collected from southern Lancaster and northeastern Saline Counties, Nebraska. Most of the information was from a seven-acre tract on the Reller Natural History Research Area 2 mi. S. of Martell, Nebraska that was studied intensively from June 1971 through August 1972.

Mammal names agree with Jones (1964) and plant names follow Fernald (1950) and Hitchcock and Chase (1950).

Mammal specimens are at the Natural Science Division at Doane College, Crete, Nebraska and at the State Museum, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.


Habitats of the seven-acre tract were divided into (1) an abandoned field cropped last in the summer of 1970 and dominated by Japanese brome (Bromus japonicus), red clover (Trifolium pratense), and numerous annual forbs, (2) a fence row supporting tree and shrub growth and ground cover varying from sparse to dense stands of smooth brome (Bromus inermis), and (3) a pasture with little bluestem (Andropogon scoparius), Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), smooth brome, with moderate numbers of forbs in contrast to the abandoned field, and shrubs with snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp.) and Arkansas rose (Rosa Arkallsana) most abundant.

Small mammals captured with Museum Special traps on the Reller Area in order of abundance were the western harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis), meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus), white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus), deer mouse (Peromyscus manieulalus), short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda), masked shrew (Sorex cinereus), prairie vole (Microrus uchrogaster), jumping mouse (Zapus hudsunius), hispid pocket mouse (Perognathus hispidus), house mouse (Mus musculus), and the thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus). Table 1 shows seasonal captures of each species and total trap nights. From the table one can interpret the relative abundance of each species and the time of year certain species were likely to be captured.


Masked Shrew (Surex cinereus)

Twenty-three specimens of the masked shrew were collected from three localities in Saline and Lancaster Counties. Fifteen specimens were captured on the Reller Area occurring in upland little bluestem and Kentucky bluegrass habitats. One specimen was caught 1 mi. N. of Martell in upland native grass planted habitat composed primarily of little bluestem and Indian grass (Sorghaslnlm nutans) on land surrounding the Salt Valley Watershed District Dam 17 A. Seven masked shrews have been taken on the Doane College campus, Crete, Nebraska. Six were captured in a riparian community of deciduous trees and one was taken in a pine plantation with trees standing approximately 35 feet.

Jones (1964) gave the range and habitat of the masked shrew as northern Nebraska south to the Platte River in marshy areas and lush riparian associations. Choate and Genoways (1966) were the first to report the masked shrew in Saline County. Jones (1964) suggested that the least Shrew (Cryptotis parva) was an upland species and documented its occurrence in southeastern Nebraska. In this study the masked shrew instead of the least shrew inhibited riparian and upland habitats. The masked shrew captures in Lancaster and Saline Counties revealed that the masked shrew was well established in a variety of habitats in southeastern Nebraska.