Eric S. Lindemann, Jonathan P. Harris, Gregory S. Keller
Northeastern Naturalist 22 (2), 287-298, (1 June 2015) https://doi.org/10.1656/045.022.0205
In southern New England forests, small mammals provide essential contributions to ecosystem functioning via food-web interactions and seed dispersal. This region has been exposed to extensive habitat fragmentation due to residential and agricultural development, resulting in a considerable amount of edge habitat, in addition to naturally occurring landscape heterogeneity. Limited research has been conducted relating small-mammal species richness and abundance to different types of edge habitat in this region. Studies incorporating an analysis of variation in both fine-scale vegetation and coarse-scale landscape variation are even more limited. We compared small-mammal richness, total abundance, and abundance of Peromyscus maniculatus (Deer Mouse), Peromyscus leucopus (White-footed Mouse), Myodes gapperi (Red-backed Vole), Tamias striatus (Eastern Chipmunk), and Tamiasciurus hudsonicus (Eastern Red Squirrel) at developed-edge, wetland-edge, and forest-interior sites. We also measured vegetation and landscape variables to understand how variation in characteristics at different scales affected small-mammal measures. We selected 4 sites of each edge type and used Sherman live-traps during the summers of 2009–2010 to survey small-mammal populations (75 traps for 4 nights at 12 sites for 2 y = 7200 trap-nights). We did not find differences among edge types and interior forest for total abundance, richness, and abundance of the 5 small-mammal species with sufficient data for analysis. However, vegetation variables and landscape variables were significantly associated with small-mammal populations. Step-wise linear regression included vegetation variables for 4 of the 5 species, and various landscape scales were included in all analyses except abundance of Peromyscus adults. Patch size was included in 4 analyses (positive for total abundance, White-footed Mouse, and Red-backed Vole; negative for Eastern Chipmunk). We found conifer basal area to have a positive relationship with abundance of Peromyscus adults and Red-backed Voles, but a negative relationship with abundance of Peromyscus juveniles and Eastern Red Squirrels. Species abundance and richness of small-mammal communities and populations in northeastern Massachusetts were related to both fine-scale vegetation differences and coarse-scale landscape metrics, but these relationships were complex and scale-dependent.