Railway mice: New insights on the adaptability of the wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus).
The wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) occurs in a huge variety of habitats. It is well known, that the species - at least sometimes - lives as a human commensal. We study a wood-mice population living on the railway tracks of busy Essen Central Railway Station. There is a stable population of wood mice on the railway tracks. The talk deals with environmental factors in this habitat with a strong human impact, as well as with food spectrum, activity time and stress in wood mice living there. Direct observations, histological and morphological examinations were used to answer the question whether “railway mice” show special adaptations to their habitat. Among others, we focused on the acoustic environment: up to 5,000 trains arrive at and depart from the station per week. The noise frequencies emitted by trains coincide with the lower part of hearing range of the wood mouse (2 kHz – 16 kHz). Acoustical and audiological tests were carried out to assess noise exposure and its impact upon hearing in wood mice.
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