Microtus pennsylvanicus - (Ord, 1815)
Meadow Vole
Other English Common Names: meadow vole
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Microtus pennsylvanicus (Ord, 1815) (TSN 180297)
French Common Names: campagnol des champs
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.103729
Element Code: AMAFF11010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Rodents
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Rodentia Cricetidae Microtus
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.
Concept Reference Code: B93WIL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Microtus pennsylvanicus
Taxonomic Comments: Includes M. nesophilus and M. provectus, island populations that formerly were regarded as distinct species (see Modi 1986; Musser and Carleton, in Wilson and Reeder 1993, 2005). Microtus breweri from Muskeget Island, Massachusetts, sometimes has been included in this species; see Moyer et al. (1988) for recent study of relationships between these two taxa. Microtus pennsylvanicus has been proposed as conspecific with Old World M. agrestis, but chromosome differences support their recognition as distinct species (see Musser and Carleton).
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 04Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 13Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread in North America; common in many areas.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Sep1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (11Oct2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alaska (S5), Colorado (S5), Connecticut (S5), Delaware (S5), District of Columbia (S5), Florida (SNR), Georgia (S3S4), Idaho (S5), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4), Iowa (S5), Kansas (S3), Kentucky (S5), Maine (S5), Maryland (S5), Massachusetts (S5), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (SNR), Missouri (S4), Montana (S5), Nebraska (S5), New Hampshire (S5), New Jersey (S5), New Mexico (S4), New York (S5), North Carolina (S5), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (SNR), Pennsylvania (S5), Rhode Island (S5), South Carolina (S3?), South Dakota (S5), Tennessee (S5), Utah (S2S3), Vermont (S5), Virginia (S5), Washington (S5), West Virginia (S5), Wisconsin (S5), Wyoming (S5)
Canada Alberta (S5), British Columbia (S5), Labrador (S5), Manitoba (S5), New Brunswick (S5), Newfoundland Island (S4?), Northwest Territories (S5), Nova Scotia (S5), Nunavut (S5), Ontario (S5), Prince Edward Island (S5), Quebec (S5), Saskatchewan (S4S5), Yukon Territory (S5)

Other Statuses

Implied Status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): PS
Comments on USESA: Subspecies dukecampbelli of Florida is listed by USFWS as Endangered.
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Occurs throughout most of Canada and Alaska south through the northern half of the U.S., to Oregon, northern Utah, central New Mexico, Kansas, northern Missouri, Georgia, and South Carolina; also disjunctly (by 500 km) in Florida and in Chihuahua, Mexico (Hall 1981). Range has expanded southward in the Great Plains since the mid-1960s as the climate has become cooler and more mesic (Frey 1992).

Short-term Trend Comments: In recent decades, range has expanded southward in Kansas, Missouri, Ilinois, and Kentucky (Krupa and Haskins 1996).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Occurs throughout most of Canada and Alaska south through the northern half of the U.S., to Oregon, northern Utah, central New Mexico, Kansas, northern Missouri, Georgia, and South Carolina; also disjunctly (by 500 km) in Florida and in Chihuahua, Mexico (Hall 1981). Range has expanded southward in the Great Plains since the mid-1960s as the climate has become cooler and more mesic (Frey 1992).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2005; Sechrest, 2002

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
FL Levy (12075)
KS Jewell (20089)*
SC Anderson (45007)*, Charleston (45019)*, Greenville (45045), Laurens (45059)*, Oconee (45073)*, Pickens (45077)*, Spartanburg (45083)*
WA Lincoln (53043)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Upper Broad (03050105)+*, Enoree (03050108)+, Saluda (03050109)+*, Bulls Bay (03050209)+*, Seneca (03060101)+*, Upper Savannah (03060103)+*, Waccasassa (03110101)+
10 Middle Republican (10250016)+*
17 Upper Crab (17020013)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Reproduction Comments: Breeds throughout year, if snow provides an insulating layer. Peak breeding activity occurs April-October. Gestation lasts about 21 days. Litter size is 1-9 (average 4-5); litter size is smaller in fall than in spring/summer; 5-10 litters per year.
Ecology Comments: Home range seldom exceeds 0.25 acres (Banfield 1974). Successful homing of 11 of 848 voles displaced 1.2 km indicates that dispersal distance likely is more than 1 km (Ostfeld and Manson 1996, J. Mamm. 77:870-873).

Cyclic density fluctuations may occur every 2-5 years (Krebs and Myers 1974). High densities of 50-60 per acre not unusual; average densities probably closer to 8-10 per acre (Baker 1983).

Can affect old-field succession through seedling predation (Ostfeld and Canham 1993).

Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Estuarine Habitat(s): Herbaceous wetland
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, FORESTED WETLAND, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous, Old field, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Found in a wide variety of habitats from dry pastures and wooded swamps to marshes and orchards. Needs loose organic soils for tunneling. Builds extensive underground tunnels. Nests in these tunnels under rocks or logs, and in self-constructed grassy clumps.
Adult Food Habits: Herbivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Diet consists mainly of vegetable matter, such as grasses, roots and seeds.
Adult Phenology: Circadian
Immature Phenology: Circadian
Phenology Comments: Active day and night throughout the year. At any one time half the population is active (Ambrose 1973).
Length: 20 centimeters
Weight: 70 grams
Economic Attributes
Economic Comments: May inflict serious damage on apple trees by feeding on bark and vascular tissues of lower trunks and roots (Sullivan and Sullivan 1988, Swihart 1990, Tobin and Richmond 1993).
Management Summary
Species Impacts: Expanding populations apparently are displacing the southern bog lemming via competitive exclusion in southeastern Kentucky (Krupa and Haskins 1996).
Management Requirements: The most effective means of reducing damage in orchards is to reduce vole population with rodenticides (toxic baits) (Tobin and Richmond 1993). These, however, may be hazardous to nontarget species (see Swihart 1990), and proper selection, timing, and application are essential for obtaining the best results (Tobin and Richmond 1993). Regarding vole management in fruit orchards, Tobin and Richmond (1993) recommended frequent close mowing of ground vegetation during the growing season and establishment of a vegetation-free zone under the canopy to reduce vole carrying capacity.

Responded to experimental prairie fire by moving to unburned area (Clark and Kaufman 1990).

Monitoring Requirements: See Tobin and Richmond (1993) for information on a monitoring technique that is useful in orchards (involves putting out apple slices in runways or burrow openings and checking them 24 hours later).

Radio collars may affect body mass, activity, and social relationships (Berteaux et al. 1994).

Population/Occurrence Delineation
Group Name: Small Murid Rodents

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Mapping Guidance: Separate sites separated by less than 1000 meters should be mapped as separate polygons.
Separation Barriers: Barriers include: wide highways with heavy traffic (subjective determination) and highways with continuous solid barriers that prevent rodent passage; major water bodies, arbitrarily set at those greater than 50 meters across in ice-free areas and those greater than 200 meters wide if frozen regularly.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 2 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Home ranges may be quite small, but at least some species exhibit good dispersal ability that may take them several kilometers from their natal area (Maier 2002). Peromyscus that have been displaced up to 3 km may return home within a few days (see Maier 2002). Displaced Neotoma fuscipes dispersed up to at least 1.6 km from their release point in five nights (Smith 1965). A male Dicrostonyx richardsoni moved more than 3 kilometers per day several times (Engstrom, in Wilson and Ruff 1999). Some species can traverse significant distances of unsuitable habitat. For example, Peromyscus leucopus may move between wooded areas separated by a deforested agricultural gap of up to at least 2 km (Krohne and Hoch 1999). In New Brunswick, a tagged subadult male Peromyscus maniculatus was captured at locations 1.77 km apart after a period of 2 weeks in September, suggesting that dispersal may extend at least this far (Bowman et al. 1999). In Kansas, individual Peromyscus maniculatus were captured at trap sites up to 1.32 km apart (Rehmeier et al. 2004). Dispersal can play a key role in the population dynamics of murid rodents.

Patterns of genetic (DNA) variation indicate that gene flow can be low among subpopulations of Neotoma magister and that effective dispersal is limited among subpopulations separated by as little as 3 km (Castleberry et al. 2002).

Separation distance for suitable habitat is a compromise between the typical small home range sizes of these mammals and their sometimes considerable dispersal ability and the likely low probability that two occupied locations separated by less than several kilometers of suitable habitat would represent independent populations.

Roads, especially divided highways, are major barriers to dispersal in small mammals (Oxley et al. 1974, Wilkins 1982, Garland and Bradley 1984).

Date: 08Mar2005
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings
Notes: Group contains most members of the family Muridae: mice, voles, lemmings, woodrats, etc.
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 07Nov1996
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

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Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

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Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:

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