The Llanos de Ojuelos in Mexico’s Central High Plateau supports unique Opuntia scrublands and the southernmost Chihuahuan grasslands. Although human activities have modified strongly its landscape and impacted its biodiversity at an unknown scale, such impacts are poorly known. We aimed at understanding how nocturnal rodent species distributed across the landscape and formed assemblages, and on the role and integration of the different habitats at the landscape level. The study was carried out at 43 sites in a study area of approximately 3 350 km2 in the Llanos de Ojuelos. During the Spring of 2008 we surveyed nocturnal rodents, through live-trapping. We redefined habitat classes based on log linear multinomial regressions of rodent captures. Species rarefaction curves and true alpha, beta, and gamma diversities were calculated for the different habitat classes. A map of the different habitats was constructed based on Landsat imagery.
We captured 458 individuals of 20 rodent species. Multinomial regressions caused the merger of 11 a priori defined habitat classes into 7. Leguminous scrub and mixed nopaleras, both secondary habitats, had the highest alpha and gamma diversity values. Closed arboreal nopaleras and grasslands had the highest within-habitat variability (1Dβ) and the lowest area coverage. Within-habitat 1Dβ was larger than landscape 1Dγ, because of the great overlap in rodent assemblage composition between the habitats. There are no “typical” rodent assemblages per habitat class, but they are organized loosely and have fuzzy borders. Rodent community organization was highly species-centred. At the landscape level, secondary habitats have a profound effect on rodent diversity and should be included in management schemes for biological conservation. The most endangered habitats seem to be the closed arboreal nopaleras and grasslands. Any conservation efforts must consider their conservation and an increase in the size of remaining patches.