Title : Small mammals in a Baltic country, 1975–2022
We will review the results of an analysis of small mammal trapping and owl pellet analysis in pre-Soviet and post-Soviet Lithuania (the most southerly of the three Baltic States in Northern Europe), covering the period 1975–2022. Based on the decades-long period, we analysed changes in small mammal diversity and proportions within the main trophic groups. The large increase in granivores, from 6.9% in 1975–1980 to 45.4% in 2011–2020, and over 50% in 2021–2022, coincided with a decrease in omnivores and insectivores. The proportion of herbivores increased to a lesser extent. At the species level, there was a significant decrease in the proportion of common voles, bank voles and common shrews, accompanied by notable increases in the proportions of yellow-necked mice and striped field mice, the latter from 1.0% in 1975–1980 to 25.3% in 2021. The increase in diversity and the decrease in dominance occurred in the aftermath of changes within the country after 1990 changes in land ownership, the dismantling of the system of large-scale collective farming, the abandonment of former agricultural land, changes in forest use, etc.) and have not subsequently changed. Since climate change, land use and local disturbances may affect the structure and diversity of animal communities in the long term, a key question is: can we link changes in small mammal communities to large-scale changes in agriculture, or is there a multi-factorial interaction?
What will audience learn from your presentation?
It is not known whether similar changes in small mammal communities have occurred in other post-Soviet countries – this is the first such presentation.
As small mammals are both agricultural pests and part of ecosystem services, they require integrated pest management measures targeting specific groups.
Knowledge of the key drivers of change can help in planning small mammal management measures.