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Tuesday, January 30 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Student Research-in-Progress Poster Display. Calibrating an Index to Predict Vole Activity and Damage in Cover-Cropped Soybean Fields

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AUTHOR: Abby-Gayle Prieur, Purdue University

ABSTRACT: Across the Corn Belt, farmers are increasingly planting winter cover crops in corn-soybean rotations to improve soil health. Though this practice has many benefits, it also comes with the cost of providing habitat for potential pest species, such as voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus and M. ochrogaster). Voles have been reported by farmers to damage soybean plants in cover-cropped fields, but little has been done to quantify levels of damage related to their abundance. We propose to create an index that relates vole runway density to vole abundance and soybean damage to help farmers manage this potential drawback of using cover crops. Following previously published methods, we will count the number of vole runways intersecting transects in cover-cropped fields. Fieldwork will occur in spring when cover crops are still standing and provide habitat for voles. Concurrent to estimating runway density, we will calculate vole abundance using capture-mark-recapture techniques. The runway index will be derived by regressing vole abundance against runway density. If the method is an accurate predictor of vole population levels in cover-cropped fields, we will then survey the same transects in mid-summer for vole damage to growing soybean plants. Regression models will be used to explore the association between vole abundance predicted by the runway index and levels of damage incurred by voles. If a strong association exists, farmers could then use the index in early spring to gauge the potential for crop damage and the necessity of control measures before planting soybeans.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 6:00pm - 9:00pm CST
Ballroom C & Foyer

Attendees (4)