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Differences in the microhabitat preferences of Neomys fodiens (Pennant 1771) and Neomys anomalus Cabrera, 1907 in Saxony, Germany

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The two semi-aquatic shrew species Neomys fodiens and Neomys anomalus are very similar in their ecology and morphology. Thus, they tend to be strong competitors for resources when they occur syntopically in habitats. We analysed the microhabitat selection of both species based on 14 parameters at two study sites in western Saxony (Germany). At the first study site, the results show segregation into different preferred microhabitats. In comparison to N. fodiens, N. anomalus occurred in low distance to the oxbow lake at places with denser herbal cover. Thus, we verified the hypothesis of Rychlik (Acta Theriologica 42:351-388 1997) who assumed differences in microhabitat niches for both shrew species to avoid competition. Furthermore, there was a spatial segregation within N. fodiens depending on their age. While adults occurred close to the water at areas with sparse herb layer, the juveniles and subadults were predominantly captured in some distance to the stream at denser vegetation. We assume that this is the result of different microhabitat preferences in N. fodiens depending on age and not a result of intraspecific antagonism. Moreover, the possibility to build subsurface burrows (and as an equivalent to this, crevice systems resulting of bank fixation with large stones) seems to be the main limiting factor for the occurrence of N. fodiens at the other surveyed site. At this site, no differences in microhabitats were visible between the age classes of N. fodiens.
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