Response of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) to coarse woody debris and microsite use in southern Appalachian treefall gaps
The influence of treefall gaps and coarse woody debris (CWD) on white-footed mouse (Peromyxus leucopus) abundance was tested experimentally during 1996-1999 in a southern Appalachian hardwood forest. I compared the relative abundance and body size of P. leucopus among unsalvaged gaps that were created by wind disturbance and retained high CWD levels, salvage logged gaps where fallen and damaged tree boles had been removed, and closed-canopy controls. I also tested the relative use by mice of four microsite types: CWD, pits, woody brush, and open ground. One-hundred and forty-one P. leucopus were captured 310 times during the study. There were no differences in capture success, body size, or sex ratio among treatments before or after salvage logging, but abundance varied among years. Capture success was higher at traps set adjacent to CWD (P < 0.05) and in pits (P < 0.10) than at traps set under brush or on open ground. In the southern Appalachians, windthrow-created canopy gaps and associated microsites do not affect habitat use by P. leucopus at a landscape level (as measured by relative abundance among treatments), but CWD influences the microdistribution of P. leucopus where it is present.