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    Description

    Vernal ponds are important aquatic habitat for many species of amphibians and invertebrates. While many aspects of such ponds have been investigated, small mammal populations in the adjacent upland [catchment] habitat are largely unstudied. We selected three ponds in central Massachusetts to determine whether the presence of vernal ponds in forested habitat influences shrew species composition and abundance. Pitfall-trap arrays were installed in pond catchment basins and in adjacent upland forest habitat. A total of 2124 small mammals of nine species were captured during 3880 trap nights. Of these, 341 were shrews of three species. We found no significant differences in abundance between pond-side and upland habitat for any shrew species. In addition, no differences were found in structural and vegetation characteristics between habitats. While there may be some indication that vernal ponds provide some residual effects during dry periods, vernal ponds in the northeastern United States are small and highly variable in hydroperiod, apparently providing an unreliable resource for shrews.

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    Citation

    Brooks, Robert T.; Doyle, Katherine L. 2001. Shrew species richness and abundance in relation to vernal pond habitat in southern New England. Northeastern Naturalist. 8(2): 137-148.

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