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Incisor microwear of Arctic rodents as a proxy for microhabitat preference.

Abstract : Changing environmental conditions in the Arctic make it important to document and understand habitat preferences and flexibility of vulnerable high-latitude mammals. Indirect proxies are especially useful for elusive species, such as rodents. This study explores incisor microwear as an indicator of variation in behavior and microhabitat use in Siberian lemmings (Lemmus sibiricus) and narrow-headed voles (Lasiopodomys gregalis) from the Yamal Peninsula, Russia. Fifty-nine individuals were sampled at four sites along a latitudinal gradient from forest-tundra ecotone to high-Arctic tundra. Lemmings are present at the northernmost site, voles at the southernmost site, and both species at the middle two. Lemmus sibiricus prefers wet, mossy lowland, whereas La. gregalis favors drier thickets and more open microhabitats and burrows underground. Feature-based analyses indicate higher densities of features and more uniformly oriented striations for voles than lemmings at sites with both species. The species also differ significantly in microwear texture attributes suggesting larger features for lemmings, and smaller ones, but more of them, for voles. While no texture differences were found between sites within species, voles from sites with open tundra have higher striation densities than those from the forest-tundra ecotone. Furthermore, lemmings from open tundra sites have higher striation densities than those from the water-saturated, moss-covered northernmost site. While microhabitat preferences and burrowing by voles likely contribute to differences between species, variation within seems to reflect habitat variation given differences in abrasive loads between sites. This suggests that incisor microwear patterning can be used to track microhabitat differences among Arctic rodent populations.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03388427
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Submitted on : Friday, October 22, 2021 - 2:37:29 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, August 30, 2022 - 4:40:06 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Sunday, January 23, 2022 - 8:13:47 PM

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Peter S. Ungar, Lindsay Saylor, Aleksandr A. Sokolov, Natalia A. Sokolova, Olivier Gilg, et al.. Incisor microwear of Arctic rodents as a proxy for microhabitat preference.. Mammalian Biology: Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde, Springer, inPress, 101, pp.1033-1052. ⟨10.1007/s42991-021-00138-x⟩. ⟨hal-03388427⟩

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