Influence of yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis) on small mammals in central California Academic Article uri icon


  • Yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis) is native to Europe and Asia and has quickly invaded disturbed grasslands and rangelands in the western United States. The purpose of our study was to determine the effects of starthistle on rodents at Beale Air Force Base, Yuba County, California, by examining rodent species diversity, species abundance, age structure, and reproductive condition among locations with low, medium, and high percent cover and height of starthistle. Listed in decreasing order of abundance, the rodents were house mouse (Mus musculus), California vole (Microtus californicus), deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), western harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis), and roof rat (Rattus rattus). Indices of diversity did not differ among starthistle cover categories. Regression analyses showed that Reithrodontomys megalotis was more abundant in high-cover starthistle plots, with 90.5% of captures occurring in at least 40% starthistle cover. Significant differences were found in capture rates, reproduction, and age between season only. To manage for all rodent species, an area with medium percent cover and height of starthistle will likely provide adequate protective cover.

published proceedings

  • Western North American Naturalist

author list (cited authors)

  • Christopherson, K., & Morrison, M. L.

complete list of authors

  • Christopherson, K||Morrison, ML

publication date

  • April 2004