Impact of Site Preparation on Flatwoods Wildife Habitat

Habitat differences 9 years after planting of slash pine are compared for three levels of site disturbance in a north Florida flatwoods. Observed wildlife abundance is discussed in light of structural (quality, occurrence and stratification) and nutritional habitat differences. Where grasses and forbs were most productive (low site preparation intensity), ground arthropods, small mammals, herhivores, birds, and insectivores were most abundant. Increased site preparation accelerated pine overstory and shrub midstory development with greater foliage arthropad abundance. Rapid vegetation successional changes may prevent animal and plant populations other than transients from effectively utilizing intensive site prepared slash pine plantations. Growth and development of slash pine overstories was favored by intensive site preparation at the expense of understory wildlife habitat.

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