Small Mammal Response to Coarse Woody Debris in the Central Appalachians

Non-game Wildlife Outstanding Technical Paper

Coarse woody debris (CWD) is an important habitat component of many faunal species, and little research has been conducted on the relationship between CWD and small mammals in central Appalachian hardwood forests. Response of small mammal populations to manipulation of CWD volume was tested in central Appalachian forests in north central West Virginia from 2000-2001. Abundance and diversity of small mammals captured (N=1,564) on 12 experimental 60 3 60 m live-trapping grids were compared. Grids were randomly distributed between addition sites (volume of CWD increased by 50%), removal sites (volume of CWD reduced by 50%), and control sites. We classified grids as edge (<100 m from a forest edge) or interior (?100 m from a forest edge). We captured 15 species in 13,009 trap nights. The most abundant species captured were white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) and deer mice (P. maniculatus; analyzed together as Peromyscus spp.; 74%), northern short-tailed shrews (Blarina brevicauda; 12%), and southern red-backed voles (Clethrionomys gapperi; 5%). Diversity estimates were similar among CWD manipulation classes except for average species richness, which was greater in removal sites (¯x=3.08, SE=0.20) than control sites (¯x=2.38, SE=0.15) after CWD manipulations (P=0.032). Abundance of small mammals was similar across manipulation classes with the exception of southern red-backed voles, which were most abundant in interior removal sites. These results suggest that manipulation of CWD volume has little short-term effect on abundance, diversity, or condition of small mammals in the central Appalachians.

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