Small Mammal and Herpetile Response to Mid-rotation Pine Management in Mississippi

Prescribed burning and/or herbicide applications are performed in managed pine (Pinus spp.) forests to control non-pine vegetation. Little research has examined small mammal or herpetile community response to these treatments in mid-rotation pine stands. Therefore, our objective was to determine prescribed burning and herbicide treatments effects on small mammal and herpetile communities within mid-rotation pine plantations in Mississippi. We established 4 treatments (herbicide only, herbicide/burn, burn only, control) with 6 replicates within thinned, mid-rotation (18-22 years old) loblolly pine (P. taeda) stands. We applied 697-872 ml/ha of Arsenal herbicide during September 1999 and conducted prescribed burning during January 2000. We captured small mammals and herpetiles to examine abundance, richness, and diversity as related to habitat conditions before and 2 years after treatment. We captured 15 species of small mammals and 21 species of herpetiles. Use of a skidder for herbicide application may have reduced small mammal richness and diversity during the first winter after treatment. Overall species diversity and richness did not differ between the pre-treatment growing season and the first year post-treatment growing season. However, small mammals, particularly peromyscids, generally responded favorably to burning and burning with herbicide treatments the first and second growing seasons after treatment. Treatments in mid-rotation pine plantations that maintain early successional vegetation and open canopy structure should be beneficial to small mammal and herpetile communities, although more years of post-treatment response are needed to make definitive management recommendations.

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