“Scottish water voles have been found to travel enormous distances, enabling them to persist in fragmented habitats.” (BBC)
Scottish water voles have been found to travel enormous distances, enabling them to persist in fragmented habitats.
Water voles living in the north-west of Scotland live in small family groups of five to 10 individuals separated from other small populations by kilometres.
Prof Xavier Lambin and his colleagues from the University of Aberdeen discovered that far from remaining isolated, young members of the family groups wandered huge distances away from their “home” territory.
“We were astounded,” Prof Lambin told the BBC.
“Those animals typically have a home range of a few hundred square meters, and we found them moving two to three kilometres, a few even moving 15 kilometres between [the site of] their birth and their first reproduction.”
In view of the patchy nature of our knowledge concerning the present distribution and abundance of water voles in Scotland (SNH), it would be inappropriate to specify a definitive, inflexible list of Priority Areas where resources aimed at conserving water voles should be focussed. Systematic survey information exists for only a relatively small area of the country and consequently the only information on the status of this species comes from isolated casual records or limited local surveys. That said, there are perhaps five or six areas where sufficient work has been to undertaken to clearly demonstrate that a viable and probably nationally important water vole metapopulation is present.
One area proposed as the first tranche of the Prioroity Areas would be West Sutherland, the burns in the Assynt area, in particular, support good populations of water voles and it is likely that much of the surrounding area including the mountainous areas to the south also support important populations.