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Keywords:

  • clearcut;
  • detection probability;
  • eastern chipmunk;
  • N-mixture model;
  • pine vole;
  • shelterwood;
  • short-tailed shrew;
  • white-footed mouse

ABSTRACT

Identifying the effect of timber harvest on plant and animal communities is important for managers seeking to conserve ecosystem function. Timber harvest affects many forest species, including small mammals, a key component of forest food webs. We studied short-term responses of several common small-mammal species to clearcutting and shelterwood harvest in hardwood forests of southern Indiana. We trapped small mammals at 32 forest stands for 2 years before harvest. Each stand then received a timber harvest treatment: either the creation of a 0.4-, 2-, or 4-ha clearcut opening, shelterwood harvest, or no harvest. Following harvest, we trapped small mammals for 3 additional years. We estimated abundance from capture data and compared estimates before and after harvests using an N-mixture model fit in a Bayesian framework. Small mammals in our study differed in their responses to timber harvest. Eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus) increased in all clearcut opening sizes, whereas white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) and short-tailed shrews (Blarina brevicauda) were less abundant in larger clearcuts. The first stage (midstory removal) of a 3-stage shelterwood harvest had no impact on the small-mammal community. Mast production influenced small-mammal populations independent of silvicultural treatments. In the years immediately following harvest, managers can expect populations of common small-mammal species to increase or remain unchanged in small clearcut openings, but some species decline in larger openings that reduce the edge to interior ratio of habitat created. The phased shelterwood harvest system in which habitat is altered over a longer period may be ideal for maintaining existing small-mammal populations. © 2013 The Wildlife Society.