Responses of small mammals to coarse woody debris in a southeastern pine forest
The importance of coarse woody debris (CWD) to small mammals in a managed pine forest in South Carolina was tested experimentally during summer and autumn 1990 and winter and spring 1991-1994. Abundance and demographics of small mammals were compared between plots with abundant CWD created by a tornado (unsalvaged plots) and plots where tornado-created CWD had been removed (salvaged plots). Species composition was similar between unsalvaged and salvaged plots, but more small mammals were captured on unsalvaged plots. Cotton mice (Peromyscus gossypinus) were the most abundant species captured in all plots and were significantly more abundant in unsalvaged plots in every trapping period. Adult female P. gossypinus in unsalvaged plots had greater survival and were more likely to be in reproductive condition than adult females in salvaged plots. Southern short-tailed shrews (Blarina carolinensis) and cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) tended to be more abundant in unsalvaged plots. Fox squirrels (Sciurus niger), the second most abundant species in salvaged plots, were never captured on unsalvaged plots. Large amounts of CWD improve habitat quality of pine forests for P. gossypinus, and CWD is probably an important habitat component for other species.