Small Mammal Responses to Intensively Established Pine Plantations in Coastal Plain Mississippi
Southern Journal of Applied Forestry
In the southeastern United States, there is a wide range of pine plantation establishment practices, varying by chemical or mechanical site preparation before planting and chemical herbaceous controls after planting. To investigate small mammal responses to a gradient of pine plantation establishment practices, we monitored small mammals for 5 years in pine plantations established with chemical, mechanical, or chemical and mechanical site preparation, followed by chemical herbaceous control after planting, in the Lower Coastal Plain of Mississippi. We captured small mammals at four study sites during February 2002-2006 in each of five different establishment practices. We caught 2,476 individuals of five common species (Blarina carolinensis, Neotoma floridana, Peromyscus spp., Reithrodontomys fulvescens, and Sigmodon hispidus). There were no differences by species or overall abundance among treatments that used a range of stand establishment practices in the Lower Coastal Plain. However, excluding Peromyscus spp., total small mammal abundance was greater in the lesser intensity establishment practices. Although increasing plantation establishment intensity in the southeastern Coastal Plain may not be detrimental to common species that are abundant in young plantations, further research is necessary to support our results. Future research should identify differences in demographics among establishment practices through mark-recapture studies, which can address mechanisms of population dynamics.