Term of Award

Fall 2007

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

C. Ray Chandler

Committee Member 1

J. Michelle Cawthorn

Committee Member 2

Lissa M. Leege

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to examine how small mammals select habitats in a fragmented agricultural landscape in southeast Georgia. I captured small mammals at 71 trap sites within 33 locations in Bulloch and Candler Counties, Georgia. Prior to trapping, each site was classified based on predominant habitat type. Within each trap site, habitat variables were quantified for capture and non-capture trap stations. Using GPS and ArcMap GIS, I quantified surrounding land cover associated with each trap site. A total of 398 individuals of 10 different species of small mammals were captured. Peromyscus gossypinus and Sigmodon hispidus were captured most often, while shrew species and (Reithrodontomys humulis) were captured rarely. Relative species abundance per trapping effort was highest for old field and longleaf pine-wiregrass habitats. Pine plantation and upland hardwood habitats yielded the lowest relative abundance per trapping effort. Species showed significant differences in patterns of habitat selection. A principal components analysis (PCA) revealed two largely non-overlapping species groups defined by PC 1: those associated with more open-canopy habitats and those associated with closed-canopy, mature forest habitats. Neotoma floridana, Ochrotomys nuttalli, and Sorex longirostris exhibited the most specialized (least variable) habitat selection. Land cover associated with capture stations for each species was similar to land cover available in the region. Overall, my results suggest that three species of forest-dwelling mammals (N. floridana, O. nuttalli, and S. longirostris) are most susceptible to the habitat changes associated with an agricultural landscape.

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