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Water voles in the city

The problem

Water voles have plummeted by around 90%, one of the most rapid and serious declines of any British wild mammal ever. How can we help the unusual grassland-dwelling water voles of Glasgow to survive their inner city environment?

The solution

Water voles Arvicola amphibius were recently discovered living in grassland far from water in the greater Easterhouse area of Glasgow. Rather than the usual riverbank setting, this population seems to be surviving in an urban landscape with many colonies in parkland, road verges, vacant and derelict land and gardens. The grassland-dwelling behaviour of this species is more common in Europe but little known in the UK. We’re investigating how these city lovers are affected by the land management of their urban environment to find out what works best for these unusual land-based water voles.

Over three years, the project is radio tracking the water voles to see how they respond to disturbance prior to, during and following periods of grassland management. By marking individual animals, we’ll also see how the population density responds to different management regimes by comparison with control sites. Once analysed, the findings will be used to direct the grassland management regime to maximise the chances of water voles in Glasgow and other cities throughout the UK.

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