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A pine vole population censusing technique using whole apples for measuring rodent activity (apple-indexing) levels in the evaluation of rodenticide treatments in orchards is described in detail in this paper. Its use in combination with exhaustive dead trapping at the termination of experiments has provided a rapid and reliable method for making comparisons between treatments. The apple-indexing technique uses the consumption of strategically placed apples as a means of censusing the vole activity in the animals' runway system. This method requires little equipment, does not depend on highly skilled labor, and allows the researcher to evaluate large numbers of plots relatively rapidly. Making comparisons between as many as ten or more treatments in a randomized complete block design with three or four replications becomes practical. The technique simply gives information on the percent of trees or sites visited by voles in a 24-h period. Throughout the posttreatment period rapid evaluation of the population status of each treatment can be evaluated in 24 h. This rapid evaluation is quite valuable in determining the proper timing for the final dead trapping. A number of experiments over a period of years has shown a high correlation between apple-indexing and dead trapping.
vertebrate pest control, voles, rodenticides, field test method, censusing technique, Microtus pinetorum
Associate professor of horticulture, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, Va.