Annual Variation in Habitat Use by White-footed Mice, Peromyscus leucopus: The Effects of Forest Patch Size, Edge and Surrounding Vegetation Type


  • Christine S. Anderson Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210
  • Douglas B. Meikle Department of Zoology, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056
  • Alan B. Cady Department of Zoology, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056
  • Robert L. Schaefer Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056



White-footed Mice, Peromyscus leucopus, forest patches, habitat preference, edge habitat, exterior matrix, Ohio, Indiana


White-footed Mice (Peromyscus leucopus) were trapped for two years in the exterior matrix, edge, and interior forest habitat sections of six forests patches in a fragmented agricultural landscape. We used data on the capture locations of P. leucopus individuals from the two years, which differed in rainfall (i.e., summer of 2000 with 50% more rain than summer of 1999), to assess how patch size, edge habitat, and surrounding habitat type influence habitat use and movements in populations of this forest habitat generalist. We found that the proportion of individuals subsequently captured in the forest edge from the exterior was 16 times greater in the wet year than in the dry year and approximately twice as many P. leucopus were not subsequently recaptured from the exterior matrix in the dry year compared to the wet year. For each year, captures between habitats did not differ in relation to patch size, edge forest habitat, or exterior matrix type. These results illustrate the generalist habitat preferences of P. leucopus, but emphasize annual variation in their behavior and distribution.