Rodent population and community responses to experimental, large scale, long-term coarse woody debris manipulations
Coarse woody debris (CWD) is a structural feature in forests throughout the United States that provides unique cover, runways, and microclimate for various wildlife species. While use and selection of CWD for rodent foraging, travel, and nesting, which can impact an individual’s ﬁtness, has been demonstrated across numerous studies, the role of CWD presence and abundance in rodent population and community dynamics varies across studies. To better understand rodent and CWD relationships, we studied rodent populations across two periods of CWD manipulation in randomly assigned experimental treatments in South Carolina (Period I: March 1996–November 2000; removal of all snags and fallen logs, removal of fallen logs only, and Control, and Period II: January 2002–September 2006; downed woody debris addition, snag addition, and Control). Overall, we found minimal effects of experimental treatments on the rodent community composition and structure, and community level variation was mainly explained by cotton mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus) and southern ﬂying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) captures. There were no experimental treatment effects on captures of cotton mice and southern ﬂying squirrels, but we observed variation across seasons and years. Our study shows that over the long-term, rodent population and community dynamics are not affected by experimental manipulations of CWD in our study area.