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Monday, February 6 • 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Technical Session. Plant Diversity Affects Mammal Community Structure in Western North Dakota Grasslands

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AUTHORS: Michael J. Shaughnessy Jr., Northeastern State University; Craig Whippo, Dickinson State University

ABSTRACT: To characterize the distribution and habitats of small mammals in western North Dakota, we sampled small mammals from May 2014 through August 2015. Small mammals were captured using pitfalls and museum special snap traps arranged in Y-shaped arrays. Pitfall traps were established at the center of the arrays. Snap trap stations consisting of three Museum Special snap traps radiated out from the array center at 10m intervals. At each sampling site, vegetation was characterized by measuring plant-cover properties and determining the floristic quality. A total of 1105 small mammals were captured over 1800 trap nights. Captured small mammals represented two Orders, seven Families, 14 Genera and 17 species. Four species accounted for 87.9% of all mammal captures (Peromyscus maniculatus, Microtus pennsylvanicus, Zapus hudsonius, Sorex cinereus). We used non-hierarchical clustering to partition the sites according to pre-transformed site species data. Small mammal community structure varied between these site clusters despite having consistent mammal species richness. The differences in mammal community structure appear to be associated with plant community and cover characteristics. These data suggest that small mammal community structure in western North Dakota is governed more by species niche requirements and less by larger ecosystem processes. Management strategies that prioritize plant diversity have little or no effect on mammal diversity. Management efforts, with respect to small mammal communities, should then be targeted towards desired species niche requirements.

Monday February 6, 2017 3:40pm - 4:00pm CST