Shrews in Managed Northern Hardwood Stands in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia

Shrews are an abundant and important component of the mammalian fauna in central and southern Appalachian forested habitats. Because most soricids are small, cryptic, and difficult to survey, they typically have been underrepresented in research examining effects of forest management on small mammals. To assess shrew response to clearcutting northern hardwood forests in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia, we conducted a pitfall trapping survey during the late spring and early summer of 1998 and 1999 across a chronosequence of northern hardwood stand-ages from recently clearcut to those >60 years old. Capture frequency of masked shrews (Sorex cinereus), smoky shrews (S. fumeus), and northern short-tailed shrews (Blarina brevicauda) did not differ among stand-ages. Shrew captures were influenced more by differences in weather conditions between years and pitfall type. Masked shrew and smoky shrew captures were correlated positively with daily precipitation and negatively with maximum daily temperature in 1999, a severe drought year. Pitfalls placed along natural cover such as downed woody debris and emergent rock captured more masked shrews and smoky shrews than did pitfalls placed in the open forest floor. Rock shrews (S. dispar) and pygmy shrews (S. hoyi), both habitat specialists that our survey did not target, were collected only in pitfalls placed near cover.

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