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Title: Small mammals in managed, naturally young, and old-growth forests.

Author: Carey, A.B.; Johnson, M.L.;

Date: 1995

Source: Ecological Applications. 5(2): 336-352

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Forest managers in the Pacific Northwest are faced with new challenges of providing for all wildlife in managed forests. Our objective was to elucidate the factors governing the composition and biomass of forest floor mammal communities that are amenable to management. We sampled small mammal communities in forests of various management histories on the Olympic Peninsula and contrasted our results with those of other large studies in the Pacific Northwest. Forest floor mammal communities in forests >35 yr old in the Western Hemlock Zone of Washington and Oregon are composed of 5-8 characteristic species. These include Sorex trowbridgii (numerically the most dominant); one species each of Clethrionomys, the Sorex vagrans complex, and Peromyscus; and Neurotrichus gibbsii. Species composition changes from south to north, and the communities on the Olympic Peninsula contain two or three additional species compared to communities to the south. Communities in naturally regenerated and clearcutting regenerated (managed) young forests are similar in composition to those in old growth; old growth, however, supports 1.5 times more individuals and biomass than managed forest. Community diversity seems related to the south-north moisture-temperature gradient that is reflected in increased diversity of canopy conifers, development of forest floor litter layers, accumulation of coarse woody debris, and abundance of herbs, deciduous shrubs, and shade-tolerant seedlings (as opposed to understories dominated by evergreen shrubs). Previous work found few habitat variables that were good predictors of species abundance in natural young and old-growth stands. Naturally regenerated young stands had higher levels of coarse woody debris than old growth. Managed stands had much lower abundance of coarse woody debris and tall shrubs than old growth. Understory vegetation (herbs and shrubs) and coarse woody debris accounted for a major part of the variation in abundance of six of eight species in managed stands, but only two species in old growth. Management of Western Hemlock Zone forest for conservation of biodiversity and restoration of old-growth conditions should concentrate on providing multispecies canopies, coarse woody debris, and well-developed understories.

Keywords: biodiversity, Clethrionomys, forest ecology, habitat, mammal communities, micro-habitat, Microtus, Neurotrichus, old growth, Olympic Peninsula, Oregon, Peromyscus, silviculture, Sorex, Washington

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Carey, A.B.; Johnson, M.L. 1995.. Small mammals in managed, naturally young, and old-growth forests. Ecological Applications. 5(2): 336-352

 


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