The influence of weather and moon phase on mammal activity

Kate Senior has a new paper on the influence of weather and moon phase on the activity of small mammals – published in Australian Mammalogy

Using extensive field data, Kate and colleagues explored the role of minimum temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, rainfall, cloud cover and moon illumination on small mammal capture rates.

Check out the paper to find out how insectivorous marsupials, nectarivorous pygmy-possums and omnivorous rodents are influenced by meteorological conditions, and how to more effectively survey and monitor these fascinating animals.

Read the Abstract below and email Kate for a full copy of the paper.

Abstract. Small mammals are commonly surveyed using live trapping but the influence of weather conditions on trap success is largely unknown. This information is required to design and implement more effective field surveys and monitoring. We tested the influence of weather and moon phase on capture rates of small mammals in the Murray Mallee region of semi-arid Australia. We used extensive pitfall trapping data collected at 267 sites, totalling 54 492 trap-nights. We built regression models to explore the relationship between the capture rates of five species and daily meteorological conditions, and across families of mammals, including dasyurids, burramyids and rodents. A relationship common to several taxa was the positive influence of high winds (> 20 km per hour) on capture rates. We also identified differences between taxa, with warmer overnight temperatures increasing capture rates of mallee ningaui but decreasing those of Bolam’s mouse. This makes it difficult to determine a single set of ‘optimal’ meteorological conditions for surveying the entire community but points to conditions favourable to individual species and groups. We recommend that surveys undertaken in warmer months encompass a variety of meteorological conditions to increase capture rates and provide a representative sample of the small mammal community present in a landscape.