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J Wildl Dis. 1999 Apr;35(2):311-8.

Relationships of deer mouse movement, vegetative structure, and prevalence of infection with Sin Nombre virus.

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Department of Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523, USA.


The effects of vegetative structure on movement of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) were examined in two distinct vegetation associations, one near Hesperus and the other near Molina in western Colorado (USA) from June-October 1994 to October 1998. We monitored movement by live-trapping small mammals within Gambel's oak/mixed-grass (Hesperus) and sage brush/juniper (Molina) vegetation types. Vegetative structure differed between the sites with Molina having more cover provided by shrubs and Hesperus having more cover provided by forbs. Adult male deer mice moved greater distances at Hesperus than at Molina. Sub-adult males tended to move greater distances than did adult females. Relative abundances of deer mice tended to differ by season, but the average relative abundance of deer mice was greater at Molina. Long-term prevalence of infection with SNV was greater at Hesperus and was greatest in adult males at Hesperus (36.1%). Adult males at Molina exhibited a prevalence of infection with SNV of 25.0%. Infection with SNV was highly associated with scars or wounds for adult male, adult female, and juvenile male deer mice at Hesperus, but only for adult female deer mice at Molina. The presence of scars or wounds tended to be associated with greater age, but male deer mice at Hesperus were more likely to have wounds than female deer mice of the same age class. A similar pattern, excluding juveniles, was observed at Molina. Intraspecific interactions and environmentally elicited long-distance movements of deer mice may play a role in prevalence of infection with SNV in these animals.

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