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Conservation biology of the European hamster (Cricetus cricetus) : nutritional effects of crops on hamsters fitness and evaluation of their antipredatory behavior to upgrade wildlife underpasses

Abstract : The European hamster (Cricetus cricetus), one of the most endangered mammal in Europe, is on the verge of extinction in France. However, we are still lacking information on the causes of its decline and on how to improve its conservation. During my PhD, I therefore investigated for the nutritional effects of crops on hamsters’ fitness. The main results highlight that elevated maize consumption is severely reducing hamsters’ reproduction because of a major deficiency in vitamin B3. Then, I found that crop associations such as wheat-soybean and maize-sunflower are favorable to the species and should be implemented in the Alsace. I also developed an anti-predation tube (APT) that will serve to upgrade wildlife underpasses and ultimately allow to reconnect wild populations. Moreover, behavioral tests presented in this thesis reveal that hamsters display bold behaviors when facing a predator. Nonetheless, they use the APT as a refuge in such cases, which validated its anti-predatory function. Therefore, the APT will now be implemented in wildlife underpasses in the Alsace. Results of this PhD will now benefit the conservation of the species in France and in Europe.
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Submitted on : Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 12:01:08 PM
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Mathilde Tissier. Conservation biology of the European hamster (Cricetus cricetus) : nutritional effects of crops on hamsters fitness and evaluation of their antipredatory behavior to upgrade wildlife underpasses. Animal biology. Université de Strasbourg, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017STRAJ022⟩. ⟨tel-01704171⟩

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