Habitat Diversity and Small Mammal Populations in Canaan Valley, West Virginia

Small mammals were trapped annually in Canaan Valley, West Virginia, from 1978 to 1993. Canaan Valley is located at 1,000 m elevation in the Appalachian Mountains and contains an unusual interspersion of ecological communities. Snap-trapping was conducted for 4 consecutive nights each September in each of 11 habitat types: alder, aspen, conifer, grassland, grassland/ecotone, hayfield, young hardwoods, mature hardwoods, muskeg, shrub/ecotone, and spiraea. The most abundant species captured were deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus, 2.0 captures/ 100 trapnights), short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda, 1.6), meadow vole {Microtuspennsylvanicus, 1.1), masked shrew (Sorex cinereus, 0.8), and red-backed vole (Clethrionomys gapperi, 0.3). Mean annual trap success for all sites combined varied significantly within years, ranging from 1.7 to 10.6 captures/100 trapnights in the 16-year period. Mean annual trap success within habitat types for all species combined ranged from 2.8 (shrub/ecotone) to 8.3 captures/100 trapnights (aspen). Significant differences in captures occurred among community types within years, ranging from no captures to 22.0 captures/100 trapnights. Standard deviation of annual means was less in the total Canaan Valley (all communities combined) than in any single community, with the exception of hayfield and shrub/ecotone. Trapping data indicated year-to-year small mammal populations were more stable in the existing complex of communities than if a single community type had dominated the Valley.

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