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1 December 2008 Influence of Acorn Mast on Allegheny Woodrat Population Trends in Virginia
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Neotoma magister (Allegheny Woodrat) is a medium-sized rodent associated with rock outcrops, talus slopes, caves, cliffs, and boulder fields in the central and southern Appalachians and Allegheny Plateau physiographic provinces. It is currently classified as a G3G4 species and is considered threatened, endangered, or a species of concern in almost every state in which it occurs. As part of a 12-yr study on the status and distribution of the Allegheny Woodrat in Virginia, we collected data on woodrat ecology and population demographics. Herein, we investigate the relationship between acorn production and an index of woodrat abundance for several woodrat populations in Virginia. Woodrat population size was estimated using the Lincoln-Peterson index. Acorn mast surveys were conducted by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries from 1989 to 2002 to index mast abundance. Woodrat population estimates were positively correlated (P < 0.05) to the previous year's mast crop index at 2 of 4 monitoring sites. Woodrat populations were not correlated to the mast crop two years prior. Acorn production alone does not appear to account for decline in woodrat populations. Range-wide declines in Allegheny Woodrats are likely due to a combination of local and landscape factors, but forest managers should consider acorn production when writing management prescriptions if woodrats are present within the management unit.

Michael T. Mengak and Steven B. Castleberry "Influence of Acorn Mast on Allegheny Woodrat Population Trends in Virginia," Northeastern Naturalist 15(4), 475-484, (1 December 2008).
Published: 1 December 2008

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