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Agroecosystem Ecology of Northern Deermice (Peromyscus maniculatus bairdii) and White-footed Deermice (P. leucopus noveboracensis) in the Inner Bluegrass of Kentucky

James J. Krupa1,* and Aidan E. O’Brien1

1Department of Biology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0225. *Corresponding author.

Northeastern Naturalist, Volume 29, Issue 2 (2022): 229–238

Peromyscus leucopus (White-Footed Deermouse) and Peromyscus maniculatus (North American Deermouse) are 2 widespread rodent species in North America, with North American Deermice more ecologically diverse and widely distributed than White-footed Deermice. Commonly, White-Footed Deermice are ecological generalists, and North American Deermice are ecological specialists. In the Inner Bluegrass Region of Kentucky, these 2 species are sympatric in agroecosystems habitats, including the University of Kentucky North Farm. This farm was the most trapped location in central Kentucky from 1950 to 1968, with results indicating the White-Footed Deermoouse was the more common of these species. Trapping from 1995 to 2015 found that North American Deermice were caught rarely. Our study examined agroecosystems habitats at the UK North Farm, including all perennial and annual habitats, to determine the relative abundance and habitat use by both these species. In our study, North American Deermice was the most commonly captured species; it was trapped rarely in perennial habitats but much more frequently in annual crops. Perennial clover fields and Medicago sativa (Alfalfa) were the 2 exceptions; however, these are short crops with exposed soil between rows. Essentially, North American Deermice were observed in the agricultural equivalent of early successional habitat. In contrast, White-Footed Deermice were captured in both perennial and annual habitats, but more commonly in perennial habitats, the exception being annual Salvia hispanica (Chia) fields where dense, green plants produced a thick canopy. Overall, the best predictor of habitat for North American Deermice was bare, exposed soil, whereas the best predictor for White-Footed Deermice was dense growth and overhead cover.

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