Microtus ochrogaster - (Wagner, 1842)
Prairie Vole
Other English Common Names: prairie vole
Synonym(s): Pitymys ochrogaster
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Microtus ochrogaster (Wagner, 1842) (TSN 180312)
French Common Names: campagnol des prairies
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.101287
Element Code: AMAFF11140
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)
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Concept Reference
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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 ochrogaster
Taxonomic Comments: Includes M. o. ludovicianus, an isolated (and apparently extinct) form formerly regarded as a distinct species. Subspecies minor exhibits strong morphometric segregation from other M. ochrogaster and merits further examination of its taxonomic status (Musser and Carleton, in Wilson and Reeder 1993, 2005).

This species has been placed in (sub)genus Pitymys by some authors; however, genic data do not support the purported close affinity of M. ochrogaster with North American species of subgenus Pitymys (Moore and Janecek 1990; see also references cited by Musser and Carleton, in Wilson and Reeder 2005).
Conservation Status
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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
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Sep1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N4N5 (01Jan2018)

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 Alabama (S2), Arkansas (S5), Colorado (S5), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4), Iowa (S3), Kansas (S5), Kentucky (S5), Louisiana (SH), Michigan (S3), Minnesota (S3), Missouri (S4), Montana (S4), Nebraska (S5), New Mexico (S2), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (SNR), Oklahoma (S5), South Dakota (S5), Tennessee (S3), Texas (S1), West Virginia (S3), Wisconsin (S2), Wyoming (S5)
Canada Alberta (S3S4), Manitoba (S3), Saskatchewan (S4S5)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: East-central Alberta, central Saskatchewan, and southern Manitoba south through northern Oklahoma and Arkansas, east to Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, central Tennessee, and westernmost Virginia; relictual populations occur in central Colorado, northern New Mexico, and (formerly) southwestern Louisiana and adjacent Texas (Musser and Carleton, in Wilson and Reeder 1993).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Destruction of grasslands for agricultural purposes has greatly reduced the extent of suitable habitat (Caire et al. 1989). On the other hand, clearing of forests has allowed increase in distribution and abundance along eastern margin of range. In Kansas, moved out of areas subjected to experimental prairie fire (Clark and Kaufman 1990).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: East-central Alberta, central Saskatchewan, and southern Manitoba south through northern Oklahoma and Arkansas, east to Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, central Tennessee, and westernmost Virginia; relictual populations occur in central Colorado, northern New Mexico, and (formerly) southwestern Louisiana and adjacent Texas (Musser and Carleton, in Wilson and Reeder 1993).

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 AL, AR, CO, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MI, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, NM, OH, OK, SD, TN, TX, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, MB, SK

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: Sechrest, 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Limestone (01083), Madison (01089)
MI Berrien (26021)*, Cass (26027)*, Kalamazoo (26077), Van Buren (26159)*
MN Big Stone (27011)*, Cass (27021), Clay (27027), Crow Wing (27035), Douglas (27041), Fillmore (27045)*, Goodhue (27049), Hennepin (27053)*, Houston (27055), Kandiyohi (27067), Lac Qui Parle (27073), Lincoln (27081), Lyon (27083), Marshall (27089), Morrison (27097), Norman (27107), Olmsted (27109)*, Otter Tail (27111), Pipestone (27117), Polk (27119), Pope (27121), Rice (27131), Rock (27133), Roseau (27135), Sherburne (27141)*, Stevens (27149), Todd (27153), Wabasha (27157)*, Wadena (27159)*, Winona (27169), Yellow Medicine (27173)
NM Colfax (35007)*, Mora (35033)
TX Hansford (48195), Hutchinson (48233), Lipscomb (48295)
WI Adams (55001), Clark (55019)*, Columbia (55021)*, Crawford (55023), Dane (55025), Dodge (55027)*, Eau Claire (55035)*, Grant (55043), Green (55045), Iowa (55049), Jefferson (55055)*, Juneau (55057)*, Monroe (55081), Portage (55097)*, Rock (55105)*, Sauk (55111), Vernon (55123), Waupaca (55135)*, Waushara (55137)*
WV Cabell (54011)*, Mason (54053), Pleasants (54073), Wayne (54099)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
04 Wolf (04030202)+*, Little Calumet-Galien (04040001)+*, St. Joseph (04050001)+*, Kalamazoo (04050003)+
05 Little Muskingum-Middle Island (05030201)+, Upper Ohio-Shade (05030202)+, Lower Guyandotte (05070102)+*, Raccoon-Symmes (05090101)+*, Twelvepole (05090102)+*
06 Wheeler Lake (06030002)+
07 Elk-Nokasippi (07010104)+, Crow Wing (07010106)+, Redeye (07010107)+*, Long Prairie (07010108)+, Sauk (07010202)+, Clearwater-Elk (07010203)+*, Crow (07010204)+, Twin Cities (07010206)+*, Upper Minnesota (07020001)+, Pomme De Terre (07020002)+, Lac Qui Parle (07020003)+, Hawk-Yellow Medicine (07020004)+, Chippewa (07020005)+, Redwood (07020006)+, Cannon (07040002)+, Buffalo-Whitewater (07040003)+, La Crosse-Pine (07040006)+, Black (07040007)+*, Root (07040008)+, Eau Claire (07050006)+*, Coon-Yellow (07060001)+, Castle Rock (07070003)+, Baraboo (07070004)+*, Lower Wisconsin (07070005)+, Kickapoo (07070006)+, Upper Rock (07090001)+*, Crawfish (07090002)+*, Pecatonica (07090003)+, Sugar (07090004)+*
09 Otter Tail (09020103)+, Buffalo (09020106)+, Eastern Wild Rice (09020108)+, Red Lake (09020303)+, Snake (09020309)+, Two Rivers (09020312)+
10 Upper Big Sioux (10170202)+, Lower Big Sioux (10170203)+, Rock (10170204)+
11 Canadian headwaters (11080001)+*, Cimarron (11080002)+*, Upper Canadian (11080003)+, Palo Duro (11100104)+, Upper Wolf (11100202)+, Lower Wolf (11100203)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: Breeds year-round, especially spring/fall; peaks in reproduction depend on availability of moisture. Gestation lasts 20-23 days. Several litters per year; 1-7 (average 3-4) young per litter; litter size varies with season and female size and age. Both parents (and sometimes older siblings) tend neonates. Sexually mature generally by about 5-6 weeks. In Illinois, apparently mainly monogamous (Getz et al., 1993, J. Mamm. 74:44-58).
Ecology Comments: Three types of social groups: male-female pair, single female, and communal groups of 2-21 individuals (due primarily to increased survival of philopatric juveniles in late fall) (see Am. Midl. Nat. 128:197, J. Mamm. 74:44-58).

Periodic high densities may occur every 2-4 years (perhaps every 2 years in Oklahoma, where heavy grazing by cattle reduces grass cover and dampens multiyear cycles, Caire et al. 1989). However, some researchers believe that distinct multiannual cycles are not characteristic of this species (see Stall 1990). Average of 25 per ha; may surpass 250 per ha in peak years (Krebs et al. 1969); peaks of >600/ha (J. Mamm. 74:47) and 1060/ha have been reported (see Stall 1990).

Annual home range rarely more than 1000 sq m; averages a few hundred sq m. Lifespan generally is one year or less.

Most remain at the natal nest until death; those that do disperse leave home at about 6-8 weeks and move short distance (e.g., 28-33 m; McGuire et al. 1993). Getz (1997) found strong natal philopatry in a low-food habitat in Illinois.

Important prey species for many predators.

Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Grassland/herbaceous, Old field, Shrubland/chaparral
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil
Habitat Comments: Lives in upland herbaceous fields; grasslands, old agricultural lands and thickets; places where there is suitable cover for runways. Also reported from jackpine woods. Habitats include ANDROPOGON-POA PRATENSIS meadows in Kansas, ARTEMISIA-grass in Wyoming, FESTUCA-DACTYLIS grasslands in Indiana. Floodplains of rivers serve as dispersal routes in Southwest. Railroad and highway right-of-ways may serve as corridors for dispersal throughout the range. Nests are placed in burrows, under boards or logs, and above ground in grassy clumps. May build winter nests in old anthills. In Kentucky, burrow systems were shallow (within 20 cm of surface), in areas of lush vegetation; burrows may be deeper in areas with colder climate or more friable subsoils (Davis and Kalisz, 1992, J. Mamm. 73:582-585).
Adult Food Habits: Herbivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Diet consists almost entirely of vegetation (grasses, forbs); some insects. Underground tunnel systems frequently are used for feeding on roots.
Adult Phenology: Circadian
Immature Phenology: Circadian
Phenology Comments: Active both day and night, year-round. Peak activity probably occurs near dusk/dawn. Diurnal activity decreases in summer; nocturnal activity decreases in winter.
Length: 17 centimeters
Weight: 48 grams
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: Regarded as a pest in areas where it damages planted trees.
Management Summary
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Management Requirements: See Stall (1990) for a few references on control of voles.
Monitoring Requirements: See Stall (1990) for a few references on methods for estimating population size.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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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
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 28Jan1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • See SERO listing

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