Small mammal responses to prescribed fire and simulated mammal removal in a longleaf pine ecosystem
Derrick, Anna Merrie
MetadataShow full item record
Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) hunting is one sustainable practice conducted within longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forests, and two management practices common to Northern Bobwhite hunting plantations are prescribed fire and mammal predator removal. Our objective was to examine what effects these practices have on cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) and cotton mice (Peromyscus gossypinus) using radio-telemetry. We found that predator exclusion did not have an effect on cotton rat survival or microhabitat use. However, prescribed fire had a short-term negative effect on cotton rat survival because it consumed protective vegetative cover. Cotton rats were found to be predator limited, and predators fed on cotton rats opportunistically after prescribed fire. Cotton mouse home range size was not affected by fire, predator exclusion, sex, or by an interaction between fire and predator exclusion. Gopher tortoise burrows and coarse woody debris were found to be important habitat variables for cotton mouse daytime refugia.