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Impact of the consumption of endophyte-infected perennial ryegrass by meadow voles

Conover, Michael R.
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2003 v.97 no.1-3 pp. 199-203
Epichloe festucae var. lolii, Lolium perenne, Microtus pennsylvanicus, apples, diet, endophytes, females, field experimentation, fungi, grasses, males, mortality, pastures, planting, trees, voles, weight gain, wildlife
Throughout the world, millions of hectares of perennial ryegrass lawns and pastures are infected with the endophytic fungus, Neotyphodium lolii. The effect these infected grasses may have on wildlife was investigated using meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus. Consumption of infected ryegrass did not affect weight gain of captive female voles but reduced it in males. Reproductive and mortality rates of meadow voles were similar regardless of diet. In field tests, vole abundance in plots of infected ryegrass were only slightly lower than in plots of uninfected ryegrass. In infected plots, fewer apple trees were gnawed by voles than in uninfected plots suggesting that problems caused by voles may be reduced by planting infected perennial ryegrass at sites where they are causing damage.