Projetos em Curso

Cofinanciado por:
Acrónimo | AGRIVOLE
Designação do projecto | O papel dos roedores em ecossistemas agrícolas: articulando a gestão de pragas e a conservação da biodiversidade sob as alterações ambientais
Código do projecto | POCI-01-0145-FEDER-031728
Objetivo principal | Reforçar a Investigação, o desenvolvimento tecnológico e a inovação

Região de intervenção | Portugal

Entidade beneficiária | ICETA - Instituto de Ciências e Tecnologias Agrárias e Agroalimentares(líder), Universidade de Évora(parceiro)

Data de aprovação | 21-03-2018
Data de inicio | 01-07-2018
Data de conclusão | 30-06-2021
Data de prorrogação | 30-12-2021

Custo total elegível | 238938.62 €
Apoio financeiro da União Europeia | FEDER - 203097.83 €
Apoio financeiro público nacional/regional | República Portuguesa - 35840.79 €

Objetivos, atividades e resultados esperados/atingidos


In this project, we intend to evaluate the potential of voles as bioindicators of agroecosystem health and long-term sustainability. We will assess the responses of vole communities to agricultural intensification, considering the effects of different population processes, namely, “bottom-up” regulation (through changes in plant communities), and biotic relations (e.g. interspecific competition). We also intend to evaluate how such responses may influence the potential for pest outbreaks or impact the resilience of vole species of conservation concern. Focusing on tree-fruit orchard agroecosystems in northeastern Portugal, we have defined the following objectives:

1. Assess how the diversity and abundance of voles vary according to the agroecosystem structure and intensification levels;

2. Evaluate how overall plant diversity varies locally across intensification levels and how it affects vole species occupancy and abundance – “bottom-up” regulation;

3. Estimate the trophic niche breadth and overlap of co-occurring voles, across seasons and intensification levels, through DNA metabarcoding of faecal pellets;

4. Assess the importance of crops species in voles’ diets, and how their diets shift according to differences in crop and plant diversity and abundance;

5. Estimate the importance of current agricultural management practices and biotic interactions within vole communities, on crop damage regulation and the conservation of vulnerable vole species;


We will use a multidisciplinary approach, combining ecological tools and high throughput molecular methods to address our objectives.

At a landscape scale, we will analyse on voles’ distribution in the NE Portugal, together with spatial information on agroecosystem composition and structure, level of agricultural intensification, and damage records, to assess the spatial distribution patterns of the vole community.

We will then use the collected information to select fruit tree orchards of variable sizes and management regimes, that include both pest and non-pest vole species, for the local scale study. At each selected parcel, detailed plant and vole surveys will be conducted, combining ecological techniques with molecular methods. Plant diversity will be estimated through traditional vegetation surveys, and non-invasive methods will be used for assessing vole occupancy and abundance. Tree damage by voles will also be assessed on each focal orchard. The voles trophic niche and food availability, will be estimated using high-throughput sequencing techniques, namely DNA metabarcoding.

Data analyses will focus on integrating the results of the ecological assessments and molecular methods for assessing the factors influencing vole community diversity and abundance across a gradient of agricultural intensification. These analyses will allow us to gain information on the responses of vole communities to agroecosystem structure and management practices, namely considering population regulatory processes as “bottom-up” effects and biotic interactions.


This project is expected to make a significant contribution to understand how agroecosystem structure and management affects voles’ populations regulatory processes, and how the differential responses of voles’ communities may impact the economic viability of agroecosystems (e.g. through pest outbreaks). We also expect to clarify how these responses will influence the resilience of the species of conservation concern.

Overall, we expect voles to be good bioindicators of ecosystem health, with higher pest outbreak risks being linked to lower plant diversities and unbalanced vole abundances. Different vole species are expected to show some degree of trophic niches partitioning, particularly when/where resources are limited, despite of some possible overlap in diets. Crops are also expected to be more consumed if overall plant diversity is lower, as may be the case in highly managed areas. Therefore, by fostering plant diversity and more diverse voles’ communities, traditional agricultural practices should contribute to reduce the risk of pest outbreaks. Also, by increasing our knowledge on voles’ community dynamics, and our ability to predict their responses to environmental change, we should be able to forecast situations of high pest outbreak risk.