Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version

March 1981


Published in Proceedings of the Fifth Eastern Pine and Meadow Vole Symposium, Gettysburg, PA, March 4–5, 1981, Ross E. Byers, editor. Copyright © 1981 Renzullo and Richmond.


The root damage resulting from pine vole (Pitymys pinetorum) infestation of apple orchards remains a major vertebrate pest problem. Currently, research effort is being directed at habitat management and at toxic bait development and application as two potentially cost-effective methods for control of these rodents. Recently, investigations have begun into the detailed relationships between the pine vole's physiology and it's habitat in an effort to understand and perhaps disrupt the seemingly ideal balance achieved by the animal in apple orchard situations. In addition to these approaches, which have possible immediate application, one area of pine vole biology that is poorly understood but which holds a great deal of promise for incorporation into an integrated control program is the study of social organization of pine vole familial and non-familial social units. With the relatively recent application of Sociobiological Theory and Information Theory to the analysis of animal behavior, an understanding of the social biology of the pine vole is a necessity for the development of an integrated pest control program. Such a program, one that incorporates information not only about orchard management and toxic bait placement but also about the number of voles per family and the behavioral inter¬actions occurring within pine vole social units could then take a socio" management approach in addressing the problem. For example, knowing i) the activity patterns of males and females, ii) the degree to which pine voles recognize kin and iii) the cohesiveness of social breeding units would undoubtedly aid in optimizing the timing of management procedures and toxic bait placements both in terms of when to manage (e.g. time of year) and where to place baits (e.g. dispersed vs. concentrated stations). Figure 1 illustrates several types of behavioral studies which might be included in the formulation of such a pest control program.