Summer 2013 Research
Dr. Joseph Whittaker
“Small Mammal Abundance and Diversity in Response to Prairie Management Practices Presence of Invasive Species, and the Influence of Pocket Gophers”
Prairie habitats in North America have been reduced to 1% of their original area. As a result, many of the large-scale natural processes that maintained prairie habitat and prairie mammal communities no longer function. Prairies now require a great deal of active management to simulate formerly natural processes. The impact of these management practices on small mammals is not well known. Through this project we intend to examine small mammal communities on several wildlife management areas, Nature Conservancy sites, and Concordia College’s Long Lake restored prairie. The project will use live trapping to examine how small mammal communities (abundance and diversity) are affected by prescribed burns and other prairie management techniques (e.g., grazing and planting). We also intend to look at the effect of invasive species, such as reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea), on small mammals. Additionally, we will be collecting data on a number of habitat variables and the presence, density, and amount or area covered by pocket gopher (Geomys bursarius) mounds. Our goal is to collect data that will allow us to better understand how management techniques function in maintaining small mammal diversity and abundance and how invasive reed canary grass impacts the mammal community.
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