The Orkney Vole offers a window into 130 years of British natural history and an island mystery that involves ecologists, archaeologists and geneticists. These interdisciplinary endeavours are providing striking insights into the potential pace of evolution and the role of human history in shaping our wildlife today. Here, the authors tell a tale of ecological and cultural history.
The Orkney Vole Microtus arvalis orcadensis has an enigmatic history. A subspecies of the continental Common Vole M. arvalis, it is twice the size of its continental relatives, and it is also the reason why Orkney has an edge over Shetland in one aspect of wildlife interest.