Habitat characteristics of harvest mouse nests on arable farmland.
The suitability of both arable field margins and beetle banks as nesting habitat for the harvest mouse Micromys minutus was investigated. The proportion of robust stemmed herbaceous plants and grasses at nest sites in beetle banks was greater relative to the comparison sites. The main nest supporting species in field margins were bramble Rubus fruticosus and thorns Crataegus monogyna and Prunus spinosa. Nests were constructed where the vertical structure of the vegetation was significantly denser than average. Nest density was greater in the beetle banks than in field margins. The creation of beetle banks and grassy field margins on arable farmland clearly provided suitable nesting sites for harvest mice. The current management practices seemed to provide the structural vegetation necessary for nesting harvest mice.