Habitat use by the European polecat Mustela putorius at low density in a fragmented landscape
Adil Baghli, Claudio Walzberg & Ron Verhagen
Baghli, A., Walzberg, C. & Verhagen, R. 2005: Habitat use by the European polecat Mustela putorius at low density in a fragmented landscape. - Wildl. Biol. 11: 331-339.
We studied habitat use and selection, seasonal variation in the use of different habitats, and the factors possibly influencing their utilisation in six male and four female polecats Mustela putorius monitored in a fragmented area in Luxembourg. Deciduous forests appeared to be the most used habitat in summer, whereas grassland and pastures were more often used in winter and spring. Human settlements were frequently used in winter, likely because they provide both food and insulation. The influence of climatic conditions on habitat use was assessed; both rain and temperatures seemed to affect habitat use by polecats. Food habits also showed a seasonal variation with small rodents as the main food item in all seasons, but with amphibians becoming an important prey in spring and summer. Our results suggest that habitat use is influenced by trophic factors and climatic conditions, which confirms the opportunistic feeding behaviour of the polecat.
Key words: climatic factor effects, feeding habits, habitat use, Luxembourg, Mustela putorius
Adil Baghli, Scientific Research Center, National Museum of Natural History, 25 rue Münster, L-2160 Luxembourg, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg - e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Claudio Walzberg, Geodata, 27, rue de Dippach, L-8055 Bertrange, Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg - e-mail: email@example.com
Ron Verhagen, Evolutionary Biology Group, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp (RUCA), 171 Groenenborgerlaan, B-2020 Antwerp, Belgium - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Corresponding author: Adil Baghli
Received 5 August 2003, accepted 17 September 2004
Associate Editor: Piero Genovesi