A small-mammal capture-recapture study was conducted in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge to quantify the effects of soil contamination with dieldrin on demographic parameters of deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) populations. Increased dieldrin concentrations were significantly associated with larger deer mouse populations, although the size of populations on contaminated sites decreased during the study. The most parsimonious model for estimating survival rates was one in which survival was a decreasing function of dieldrin concentration. A significantly higher proportion of female deer mice in the populations residing on the more highly contaminated sites exhibited signs of reproductive activity. Development of genetic resistance in P. maniculatus to chronic chemical exposure is suggested as a possible mechanism responsible for the species' observed dominance and relatively high densities on contaminated sites. Under the additional stress of unfavorable environmental conditions, however, these populations may suffer disproportionately greater mortality. The design and analytical methods presented offer a rigorous statistical approach to assessing the effects of environmental contamination on small mammals at the population level.
Additional publication details
Relationship between deer mouse population parameters and dieldrin contamination in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge