Comparison of small mammals in three different habitats at the Cibolo Preserve




Harrison, Jacob R.

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Land management practices maintain ecosystems and areas used by humans. These practices control pest, maintain farm and crop lands, or replace natural ecosystem disturbances. Mowing, brush clearing, prescribed burns, and removal of invasive plant species manages an ecosystem or privately owned lands. The use of these land management practices can cause alterations and disturbances to habitats used by small mammals. The response and effect of land management on small mammals varies from species to species as well as the frequency of the specific management practice being used. Certain land management practices can affect the habitat preference and selection by small mammal species. The Cibolo Preserve in Boerne, Texas has a managed post oak habitat and an unmanaged grassland prairie and Ashe juniper woodland habitat. From July 2015 to May 2016 Sherman live traps were used to capture small mammals at the Cibolo Preserve for each season in the grassland, post oak, and Ashe juniper habitat. A total of two small mammal species, Sigmodon hispidus (hispid cotton rat) and Baiomys taylori (northern pygmy mouse) were found in the grassland and post oak habitat for the four seasons surveyed. The grassland habitat had both species of small mammals while the post oak habitat only had B. taylori and the Ashe juniper habitat had none. There were more captures of adult S. hispidus than juveniles while no captures of juvenile B. taylori occurred. For both species, more females were captured during the survey in each habitat and season except for summer when more male S. hispidus were captured. The summer season had higher mean values for all four body characteristics for B. taylori in both habitats while the highest mean values where spilt between winter and spring for S. hispidus. This study suggest that the unmanaged grassland habitat provides a more suitable habitat for both species than the post oak habitat, and the Ashe juniper habitat is unsuitable for both species. However, future studies with utilization of land management practices would be needed to fully understand its effects on small mammals at the Cibolo Preserve.


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Cibolo preserve, habitat, land management, season, small mammals, Texas



Integrative Biology