PROJEKT: Restoration of habitats for root vole *Microtus oeconomus mehelyi
Networking Holandsko

The project team (BROZ and PRIF UK) headed to explore the Netherlands in September 2022. The reason is that a relative of the pannonian root vole lives here. Another endemic subspecies – Microtus oeconomus arenicola has found a refuge there after the ice age. However, the wetlands that are its crucial habitat are endangered, same as in Slovakia.

During the networking, we visited five projects aimed to wetland protection with different approach. We met again our Microtus I project partners from the Dutch Mammal Society and have got to know another specialist of nature protection and landscape management.

Together with the partners from Faculty of Natural Sciences of Comenius University Bratislava we presented the state of Microtus oeconomus populations as well as measures carried out to improve or restore its biotopes. The present Dutch organisations introduced the state in their country. We discussed suitable interventions and successful measures to sustain the root vole populations.

In the National park Alde Feanen, in the area of Sneekermeer and IJsselmeer we explored various localities of root vole occurrence as well as bog biotopes. Multiple approaches of management were applied – mowing, grazing and usage of small water management objects to regulate water supply and drainage.

In the protected area Oostvaardersplassen (56 km2) the project team analyzed spacious sedge-reed growth. Even though occurrence of the root vole has not been indicated here, the locality represents characteristic biotope for the species. Thus, understanding of the applied management to improve  state of the biotope has been beneficial for Microtus II project.

During the visit of Scheelhoek and Korendijkse Slikken areas different types of care were present. Some of extensive approach without interventions along with intensive ones when the accumulated biomass of several centimetres had been removed from the surface. Tiegemeten Island is an example of good practice where tourisms is well combined with nature protection. The island is beloved by the tourists likewise by zoologists. Nature reservation Biesbosh is located at an artificially made polder. Initial purpose of the polder had been meant only for flood prevention. However, gradually it became an island of wilderness in strongly anthropogenised environment. Due to sufficient water supply i tis possible to leave the wetlands without any interventions and biomass removal. In case the biomass will accumulate after many years, water level will be risen. Visit of Biesbosh museum has been an inspiration for the planned Microtus II visitor centre.

One of the most interesting experiences was introduction of different type of root vole monitoring based on gathering of environmental DNA (eDNA) and its analysis. In the case of small mammals, the source of eDNA are feces. The methodology is less time-consuming and faster than catch-mark-release (CMR) method. Nonetheless, the eDNA method is more expensive and cannot provide all information that CMR method does.

We are beyond grateful for the Dutch guidance and cant wait to apply the gathered knowledge in project activities.

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