We tested the hypothesis that microhabitat variables, abundance of terrestrial rodents, and microhabitat selection patterns of terrestrial rodents vary between the cool-dry and warm-wet season in the Atlantic forest of Brazil. We selected variables associated with ecological factors potentially important to terrestrial rodents (physical structure of litter and woody debris, and arthropod availability) and established 25 small, independent sampling units covering 36 ha of a homogenous, mature Atlantic forest patch. Litter humidity and height, amount of small woody debris, arthropod availability, and terrestrial rodent abundance increased, whereas the quantity of large woody debris decreased in the warm-wet season. Greater spatial segregation among terrestrial rodents also was observed in this season, especially between morphologically similar species. The distribution of 3 of the 4 most common terrestrial rodents was influenced by microhabitat variables in at least 1 of the seasons, and these species also differed in their pattern of microhabitat selection between seasons. In general, the amount of small woody debris and litter humidity were more important for the microscale distribution of terrestrial rodents in the cool-dry season, whereas in the mild warm-wet season species distributions were associated with food availability or were not clearly influenced by the measured variables. The patterns of microhabitat selection by 3 common terrestrial rodents, which were associated with features that characterize old-growth forest, may be responsible for their vulnerability to forest fragmentation.
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