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Occupancy of small mammals on private lands in the Emory/Obed Watershed, Tennessee

by 1977 - Salyers, Carrie Hedio

Abstract (Summary)
The Emory/Obed watershed of the Cumberland Plateau area of Tennessee is an important area for wildlife conservation and has recently been subjected to land-use changes. This study was conducted to determine if occupancy of selected mammalian species was affected by land-use and habitat characteristics, and to provide baseline data before further land-use changes occur in the region. Small mammal trapping was conducted in a total of 132 sample sites from June through August in 2002, 2003, and 2004 using live traps. A total of 11 mammalian species was trapped. Three species were trapped in sufficient numbers to evaluate occupancy and habitat characteristics including eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus, n = 69), eastern gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis, n = 95), and white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus, n = 343). Vegetation sampling was also completed at each site to measure diameter at breast height (dbh), number of logs of downed woody debris (DWD), number and height of snags (SNAGS), number and species of woody stems (STEMS), visual estimates of overstory height (OVERHGT), total basal area and basal area of mast producing species including oak (OAK), hickory (HICKORY) and hickory and oak (HICKORY+ OAK), severity of any disturbances (DIST), the time since that disturbance (DISTAGE), and succession of the stand (SUCCESSION). We used occupancy models to determine what site factors affected detection and occupancy. White-footed mice had lower occupancy as the season progressed, eastern chipmunks occurred more frequently in areas with low basal area, and eastern gray squirrels had higher occurrence in areas with low stem density. The occupancy rate determined with model averaging was 0.82 (SE = 0.06) for white-footed mice, 0.38 (SE = 0.14) for eastern chipmunks, and 0.37 (SE = 0.08) for eastern gray v squirrels. Small mammal population densities and species richness are crucial to wildlife conservation. Populations of these small mammals should continue to be monitored using occupancy models to determine if rates are stable or decreasing due to management of private lands. Future effort should be directed towards trapping habitat-sensitive species to gain a better understanding of the effects of fragmentation on mammalian species. vi
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

School Location:USA - Tennessee

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:mammals survey mammal populations trapping emory river watershed tenn obed tennessee

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