Herbicide application affects microhabitat use by arable wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus).
Since arable-dwelling wood mice feed on many of the plant and animal species known to benefit from conservation headlands (6-m strips around crop fields that are kept pesticide-free), it is hypothesized that these headlands would increase the natural food available to wood mice and thereby affect their behaviour. To test this hypothesis, the application of herbicides on to the headlands of winter wheat fields was manipulated experimentally at 2 study sites in Oxfordshire, UK, in 1986-88. The effects on the movement patterns of 32 wood mice were investigated by intensive radio-tracking. Reduced application of herbicides in small (10 × 20 m) experimental plots along field headlands produced increases in both floral and invertebrate abundance. Wood mice actively sought those headland plots with experimentally elevated food abundance, frequenting reduced-spray plots in preference to both normally sprayed field headlands and the mid-field area.