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    Author(s): A.B. Carey; C.A. Harrington
    Date: 2001
    Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 154(1-2): 289-309
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    PDF: View PDF  (387 KB)


    Small mammals have been proposed as indicators of sustainability in forests in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. Mammal community composition and species abundances purportedly result from interactions among species, forest-floor characteristics, large coarse woody debris, understory vegetation, and overstory composition. Coarse woody debris is thought to be particularly important because of its diverse ecological functions; covers from 10 to 15% have been recommended based on retrospective studies of forests and small mammals. Unfortunately, ecological correlations are not necessarily indicative of causal relationships and magnitudes depend on composition of finite, usually non random, cross-sectional samples. Retrospective studies must be replicated to confirm relationships. We conducted a large-scale, cross-sectional survey of 30- to 70-year-old coniferous forests in western Washington to determine if previously reported relationships would hold with an unrelated, larger sample. Coarse woody debris cover was 8.3 ± 0.6% (0 ± S.E., n = 8 blocks of forest, range 4-13%). Understory cover was too low (18 ± 8% for shrubs) to allow examining interactions between understory and coarse woody debris. Overstory composition covaried with coarse woody debris. One or two of four statistically extracted habitat factors (overstory composition, herbaceous cover, abundance of Acer circinatum, and abundance of Acer macrophyllum) accounted for 18-70% of variance in abundance of 11 mammal species. Our results support hypotheses that: (1) biocomplexity resulting from interactions of decadence, understory development, and overstory composition provides pre-interactive niche diversification with predictable, diverse, small-mammal communities; (2) these communities incorporate numerous species and multiple trophic pathways, and thus, their integrity measures resiliency and sustainability.

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    Carey, A.B.; Harrington, C.A. 2001. Small mammals in young forests: implications for management for sustainability. Forest Ecology and Management. 154(1-2): 289-309


    small mammals, forest-floor characteristics, sustainability

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