Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Small rodents encourage the formation of scrubland in Spain

After two years of research over five degraded landscapes in the National Park of Sierra Nevada (Granada), scientists have established for the first time that field mice base their diet on holm oak and pine seeds, causing a deterioration of the habitats and an extension of scrubland in the forests.

The trees in the forests such as the holm oaks, rowans and pines have unexpected predators which are impeding their expansion over the mountains. In 98.5% of cases it is field mice and other rodents which eat a large proportion of the seeds which have been scattered before they are able to germinate.

Luis Matías is the main author of the work and a researcher for the Land Ecology Research Group at the University of Granada. "If the choice of the seeds they eat is not random, in other words, they eat the seeds of a determined species more often, this will be reflected in a greater emergence of seedlings among those species which are eaten less, which could alter the structure of the plant community", he told SINC.

Between 2004 and 2005, the research team exposed the seeds of six species to the predators and analyzed the numbers which were eaten. "Some species were ravaged much more than others, and this selection pattern was maintained in the different habitats throughout the two years of study", explained Matías.

The new research, recently published in Plant Ecology, shows that this phenomenon is constant in time and in the different landscapes and habitats. In this sense, according to the researchers, "the species which undergo the highest rate of depredation are the dominant arboreal species (the pine, holm oak and rowan), while the scrubland species suffer much less consumption".

Pine and holm oak seeds, the favourite food

The rodents prefer the seeds from the holm oak, quercus ilex, of which a total of 77.4% are eaten, the pine, pinus sylvestris, (73.3%), and the rowan, sorbus aria, (69.2%). The mice prefer the seeds of these particular trees to those of the scrubland owing to their components, as those from the holm oak contain a high percentage of lipids.

As a result of eating fewer scrubland seeds, the rodents encourage the formation of a plant structure dominated by scrubland. "Curiously, it is the scrubland where the rodents are most abundant, as they find food and shelter from their predators there", the scientist clarified. In other words, the seed predators favour the habitat which is most propitious for them.

However, the scientists conclude that longer experiments are required because "the uses of the soil and the selection of food by the rodents may vary from year to year, depending on the availability of food resources, the abundance of rodents and their predators and the climatic conditions".


Matías, Luis; Mendoza, Irene; Zamora, Regino. "Consistent pattern of habitat and species selection by post-dispersal seed predators in a Mediterranean mosaic landscape" Plant Ecology 203(1): 137-147 julio de 2009.

SINC | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>