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20 March 2021 Habitat associations of small mammal communities in a restored prairie system in southern Illinois
Alex Glass, Michael W. Eichholz
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Abstract

Extensive habitat loss and degradation have transformed the grasslands of North America into one of the continent's most vulnerable ecosystems and have greatly imperiled the plants and animals that depend on them. Small mammal communities play a pivotal role in maintaining the health and function of grasslands, and managing small mammal populations is an important, though overlooked, part of grassland restoration and management. We identified habitat variables in restored tallgrass prairie patches that were most strongly associated with variation in small mammal abundance and community composition, with the goal of aiding management efforts to manipulate small mammal populations. We found that small mammal abundance at the local vegetation scale was negatively related both to litter depth and plant diversity. At the landscape scale, small mammal abundance was positively associated with the amount of water surrounding a patch, and negatively associated with the amount of grassland surrounding a patch. Variation in small mammal community composition largely was governed by differences in habitat structure at the landscape scale, rather than differences in vegetation structure at the local scale. We suggested that managers interested in influencing small mammal abundance in grasslands employ tools such as prescribed fire to decrease litter depth if increased small mammal abundance is desired, or increase plant diversity by sowing a high diversity of seeds to depress small mammal abundance.

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society of Mammalogists, www.mammalogy.org.
Alex Glass and Michael W. Eichholz "Habitat associations of small mammal communities in a restored prairie system in southern Illinois," Journal of Mammalogy 102(3), 789-801, (20 March 2021). https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyab002
Received: 14 July 2020; Accepted: 6 January 2021; Published: 20 March 2021
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