Low biodiversity of small mammals in soybean fields in the northern Flint Hills, Kansas

TitleLow biodiversity of small mammals in soybean fields in the northern Flint Hills, Kansas
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsKaufman, DW, Kaufman, GA
JournalTransactions of the Kansas Academy of Science
Pagination175 - 182
Accession NumberKNZ002023
KeywordsAgricultural impacts, brome fields, deer mouse, Konza Prairie, native tallgrass prairie, prairie vole, rodents, shrews, western harvest mice, white-footed mouse

We studied small mammals in lowland soybean fields along Kings Creek on Konza Prairie during autumn 1981 and spring 1982 to assess the composition of the small mammal community in this particular cropland habitat. We also compared species composition and other community characteristics in these crop fields to those observed in native prairie, planted brome grasslands and riparian woodlands. The small mammal community in the soybean fields was dominated by seed-eating rodents as we recorded 100% deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) during autumn and primarily deer mice (92%) with a low proportion (8%) of white-footed mice (P. leucopus) during spring. In upland tallgrass prairie comprised primarily of warm-season grasses, the small mammal community was dominated by deer mice (32%), western harvest mice (30%; Reithrodontomys megalotis) and by white-footed mice (8%) in autumn and then by deer mice (35%), white-footed mice (22%) and harvest mice (21%) in spring. The community of small mammals in soybean fields was not only different from that in native upland prairie but also from nearby brome fields. In this cool-season grass habitat, herbivorous rodents dominated as >80% of the small mammals were hispid cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) during autumn and then prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) and cotton rats combined in spring. The small mammal community in nearby lowland and slope prairie collected over many seasons during different years also supports the expectation that the community in soybean fields was drastically different from what would have occurred in lowland prairie habitat (most likely dominated by prairie voles, deer mice and western harvest mice) before European settlement and agricultural impacts.