Species diversity of small mammals increased with structural complexity left on clearcut sites; Productivity of red-backed vole populations was higher in sites with green-tree retention (GTR) and windrows of woody debris; GTR and windrows may provide additive effect for providing habitat to conserve mammals on clearcuts.
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We tested the hypotheses (H) that on newly clearcut-harvested sites, (H1) abundance and species diversity of the forest-floor small mammal community, and (H2) abundance, reproduction, and recruitment of red-backed voles (Myodes gapperi Vigors), would increase with higher levels of structural retention via green-tree retention (GTR) and woody debris (dispersed and constructed into windrows). Study areas were located in three forest ecological zones in southern British Columbia, Canada. For H1, mean total abundance did generally increase with the gradient of retained habitat structure. Mean species richness and diversity were similar among treatment sites but did show an increasing gradient with structural compexity. For H2, mean abundance, reproduction, and recruitment of M. gapperi were higher in GTR and windrow sites than those without retained structures. There was a positive relationship between mean abundance of M. gapperi and total volume of woody debris across treatments. This study is the first investigation of the responses of forest-floor small mammals to an increasing gradient of retained habitat structure via GTR and woody debris on clearcuts. Our assessment of a combination of these two interventions suggested a potentially strong additive effect that could be cautiously extrapolated across three forest ecological zones. With the advent of low levels of GTR on clearcuts, woody debris structures should help provide some habitat to conserve forest mammals on harvest openings.
Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, Faculty of Forestry, University of BC, 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4
Applied Mammal Research Institute, 11010 Mitchell Avenue, Summerland, BC, Canada V0H 1Z8