We trapped small mammals at a variety of forest and prairie sites in Northern MN. Our objective was to compare diversity of forest and prairie as well as the diversity between different communities within the forest and prairie. Over three trap nights we caught a total of 163 animals and twelve different species. Overall the prairie had more diversity than the forest. Within the forest the deciduous burned and red pine unburned sites had the most diversity.
Small mammal species diversity changes from microhabitat to microhabitat (Syder and Best). Other factors such as time and natural disturbances contribute to population abundance and diversity (Snyder and Best 1988). Zwolak and Foresman (2007) studied the immediate effects of a forest fire in a northern coniferous forest on small mammal diversity. Some have studied small mammal reaction to the 2001 blow down in the BWCA (Pauli et al 2006). Other studies examine small mammal diversity in general such as Kirkland and Findley’s (1999) comparison of a Pennsylvanian forest to a forest in New Mexico. Iverson, Seabloom, and Hnatiuk (1967) have done comprehensive study of forest-prairie transition in Northern Minnesota and North Dakota.
Our study seeks to compare the diversity of different communities or microhabitats within the forest of Itasca State Park in Northern MN with a variety of prairie sites in Northwestern MN.