Soricid response to canopy gaps created by wind disturbance in the Southern Appalachians
We used drift fences with pitfall traps to compare soricid abundance, richness, and demographic parameters among intact multiple-tree windthrow gaps, salvaged gaps, and mature forest in a xeric southern Appalachian forest type during 1997-1999. We also tested whether capture rates were correlated with rainfall, and whether similar-sized species did not co-occur as predicted by multi-species assemblage rules. We captured six species: Blarina brevicauda (Say) (northern short-tailed shrew), Cryptotis parva (Say) (least shrew), Sorex cinereus Kerr (masked shrew), S. fumeus G.M. Miller (smoky shrew), S. hoyi Baird (pygmy shrew), and S. longirostris Bachman (southeastern shrew). Tree basil area, forest structural features, and arthropod abundance differed among treatments, but species richness and abundance of most shrews did not. Captures during June-October were higher in 1998 than in 1997, although 1998 summer rainfall was low. Rainfall was correlated with shrew activity, but explained little of the variability in capture rates (r2 = 0.05). The sex ratio within each species was similar among gap treatments and controls, but differed from 1:1 for S. hoyi, S. longirostris, and S. fumeus. The soricid assemblage did not conform to multispecies assemblage rules; three small-bodied species co-occurred in similar numbers at all study sites. Our results suggest that forest management that mimics conditions created by multiple windthrows in xeric forest of the southern Appalachians is unlikely to affect shrew communities adversely, at least in the short-term.