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29 September 2015 Climbing Behavior of Northern Red-Backed Voles (Myodes rutilus) and Scansoriality in Myodes (Rodentia, Cricetidae)
Jonathan A. Nations, Link E. Olson
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Abstract

Scansoriality (climbing) allows access to valuable resources in the arboreal niche and is widespread among mammals, yet little is known about how it originates from obligate terrestriality. The northern red-backed vole (Myodes rutilus) is a small, Holarctic rodent long presumed to be strictly terrestrial, yet 3 of its congeners (M. gapperi, M. glareolus, and M. californicus) have been observed climbing in trees. We conducted paired arboreal and ground trapping surveys in interior Alaska to investigate anecdotal accounts of tree-climbing behavior in M. rutilus. Results indicate that they readily climb up to 2 m above ground in trees of their own volition, a phenomenon heretofore undocumented in the literature. Camera trap videos show M. rutilus exhibiting behavior and dexterity—such as terminal branch arboreal quadrupedalism and head-first descent mediated by hindfoot rotation—generally associated with more arboreal species. Northern red-backed voles may therefore provide a new perspective on early stages of scansoriality in small-bodied mammals.

© 2015 American Society of Mammalogists, www.mammalogy.org
Jonathan A. Nations and Link E. Olson "Climbing Behavior of Northern Red-Backed Voles (Myodes rutilus) and Scansoriality in Myodes (Rodentia, Cricetidae)," Journal of Mammalogy 96(5), 957-963, (29 September 2015). https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyv096
Received: 21 October 2014; Accepted: 21 May 2015; Published: 29 September 2015
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KEYWORDS
Alaska
arboreal
Arvicolinae
climbing
Myodes rutilus
northern red-backed vole
scansorial
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