Spatial and temporal patterns in the activity of European moles
Macdonald DW., Atkinson RPD., Blanchard G.
Using ratio-tracking data obtained at three sites, we assessed the effects of season and of neighbour avoidance on the activity and patterns of home range use by European moles (Talpa europaea). The home ranges of non-breeding male and female moles did not differ significantly in size, and averaged 2324 m2(minimum convex polygon). Although overlap between ranges was small (an average of 12.8% of each range being shared with neighbours and an average of only 3.3% of 2×2 m grid cells were shared with an individual neighbour, ranges were not oriented to avoid neighbours. Nonbreeding male/female neighbours tended to share more of their grid cells (3.9±5.7%) mean ±SD than did neighbours of the same sex (male:male 1.2±0.95%; female:female 1.1±1.3%), but there was no significant difference in overlap between any combination of sex pairings. On average, each mole spent only 0.9% of its time within 6 m of another mole, and only 3 out of 46 dyads showed evidence of being attracted to each other; there was no evidence from the simultaneous movement patterns of neighbouring moles that they avoided each other. Although moles tended to return to the same part of their range at the same time on successive days, there was also some indication of gradual changes in the spatial pattern of daily home range use. Moles had a triphasic pattern of activity, but this became tetraphasic under drought conditions. There were significant differences between sites, but not between sexes, in sleeping behaviour and activity patterns. These differences could be related to seasonal differences in soil moisture and thus probably to prey renewal rates. We conclude that in our sites, the activity patterns and movements of moles depend on the temporal and spatial dispersion of food, rather than on short-term interactions between the movements of neighbours. © Springer-Verlag 1997.