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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter September 30, 2015

Field identification of Apodemus flavicollis and Apodemus sylvaticus: a quantitative comparison of different biometric measurements

  • Paola Bartolommei EMAIL logo , Giulia Sozio , Cristina Bencini , Carlo Cinque , Stefania Gasperini , Emiliano Manzo , Simona Prete , Emanuela Solano , Roberto Cozzolino and Alessio Mortelliti
From the journal Mammalia


The identification of the wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus and the yellow-necked mouse Apodemus flavicollis in the field has challenged many generations of field mammalogists, particularly in northern Spain and continental Italy. These two species present highly similar morphologic and morphometric characteristics especially when they are sympatric. Existing identification methods rely on morphometric and biometric measurements collected on killed or etherized animals, whereas in many field studies measurement may be taken only on live and awake animals. Genetic methods, instead, are time consuming, expensive and do not allow immediate identification in the field, which is a requirement in many types of ecological works. To contribute in filling this knowledge gap, the aims of this research were: 1) to assess biometric measurements (weight and length of hind foot) that allow species identification on live and awake animals and 2) to develop a predictive model and related software that, subject to refinement based on study area, will allow researchers to prioritise the selection of individuals to be identified by molecular approach. This model, based on a large (>1500) sample of individuals captured in two different sites in central Italy, should help to classify live and awake individuals of Apodemus species. Attached to this paper is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that may be used to apply the model to new data.

Corresponding author: Paola Bartolommei, Fondazione Ethoikos, Convento dell’Osservanza, 53030 Radicondoli, Siena, Italy, e-mail:


We would like to thank Andrea Bonacchi, Silvia Cafariello, Sabrina Calieri, Tommaso Cencetti, Maria Cipollini, Cesare Dei, Melissa Messinese, Matilde Boschetti, Cristina Cervone, Stefano Fagiani, Daniele Fipaldini, Fabiola Iannarilli, Matteo Luciani, Francesca Marasca, Lorenzo Mastrofini, Ilaria Melcore, Davide Roviani, Martina Scacco, Andrea Schiavano and Luca Santarelli for help during fieldwork, and Alessandro Belli for technical support. We are grateful to Alessandro Giuliani for statistical advice, and to two anonymous reviewers, who greatly improved our manuscript with their comments.


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Supplemental Material:

The online version of this article (DOI: 10.1515/mammalia-2014-0051) offers supplementary material, available to authorized users.

Received: 2015-4-8
Accepted: 2015-8-28
Published Online: 2015-9-30
Published in Print: 2016-9-1

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