Influence of Row Spacing and Debris Distribution on Vegetation and Small Mammals in Louisiana Pine Plantations
Site preparation after clearcuts directly affects surrounding small mammal populations. Differences in bed row spacing and arrangement of debris can impact structure and composition of vegetation communities, which influence small mammal habitat. We surveyed vegetation and small mammals in 2 different row spacings (14 ft and 20 ft) and 2 different debris distributions (piled and scattered) in 4 clearcuts owned by Weyerhaeuser in Louisiana during 2006-2007. Our objectives were to examine effects of row spacing and debris distribution on vegetation, to look at responses of small mammal densities to row spacing and debris distribution, and to see how small mammals responded to resulting vegetation. Study areas included 2 clearcuts in north Louisiana and 2 in south Louisiana. All study areas were newly harvested loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) plantations. Sampling techniques in the field included vegetation surveys and live trapping of small mammals. General trends included the following: vegetation responses to treatments were overall uniform throughout treatments. In year 2, grass, forbs, and woody vegetation proliferated in both row spacings and debris arrangements. Vines grew in predominantly in 20 ft spacing. Small mammal responses to treatments depended on species examined. Peromyscus spp. favored all study areas irrespective of treatment. House mouse (Mus musculus) used mostly 14 ft spacings and the combination of 20 ft spacing with piled debris. Cotton rat used both spacings and preferred piled debris. Small mammals responded to changes in vegetation as succession progressed. Woody vegetation, grass, forbs, and vines were important predictors in habitat selection. Both row spacings and debris arrangements in this study benefited small mammals. Future research could examine later successional stages and how wildlife adapt to changing vegetation.
Advisor:Michael J. Chamberlain; Philip C. Stouffer; Thomas J. Dean
School:Louisiana State University in Shreveport
School Location:USA - Louisiana
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:renewable natural resources
Date of Publication:09/09/2008