Mammal community dynamics are determined by local geography, climate, vegetation and other fauna. The state of mammal populations can also actively exert effects on the changing state of species interactions in terrestrial ecosystems (Tyliankis, et al., 2008). Understanding mammal diversity is an important step towards realizing the complexity of ecosystem ecology as well as informing wildlife managers and conservationists. In this study, we examine twelve sites in and near Itasca State Park, Minnesota to analyze the richness and species composition of each. Expecting higher diversity among prairie (rather than forest) and burned (rather than unburned) sites, we used standard small mammal trapping techniques, to survey each site for three consecutive nights, then identified, marked and released all captured mammals. A higher number of small mammals were trapped in forest sites, but the prairie grids demonstrated greater total species richness. Species diversity is distributed differently across the two site types, but both habitats produced the same mean species diversity. Most species were unique to either forest or prairie habitat, but overlap did occur with two species known to inhabit various landscapes: Blarina brevicauda and Peromyscus spp.. We conclude that habitat is a major determinant of small mammal populations in and around Itasca State Park, MN.
Diversity of small mammal communities across forest and prairie habitats in and near Itasca State Park, MN.
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