Examining the activity patterns of wildlife is an important aspect of understanding the ecology of a species and may be especially important for species of conservation concern. We used remotely triggered cameras to describe the daily and seasonal activity patterns and examine ecological factors that influence the activity of the Amargosa Vole (Microtus californicus scirpensis), a California endemic listed federally and by the state as Endangered, and is a marsh habitatspecialist in the Mojave Desert. We found that vole activity was greatest during crepuscular periods, followed by nocturnal and diurnal periods. We saw strong seasonal effects, with the highest activity occurring in spring (March-May). Daily activity patterns varied at different times of the year, with lower activity during periods of seasonal temperature extremes. Daily high temperatures, however, were only weakly related to activity, and precipitation was not associated with changes in activity patterns. Of the factors we examined, marsh area was the most important factor in predicting vole activity, with larger marshes having higher vole activity than smaller marshes. Predation seemed to be strong driver of vole activity, with higher activity during periods of lower potential predation risk (crepuscular and new-moon periods), suggesting that voles may decrease their activity to avoid predators during periods when predators may more easily detect them (e.g., full moon). By highlighting factors that influence vole activity, we show the importance of understanding activity patterns relative to the ecology and conservation of this species.
Roy, A., Rivera Roy, A., Clifford, D., & Foley, J. (2023). Activity patterns of the endangered Amargosa vole (Microtus californicus scripensis). Western Wildlife, 10, 61–68.