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Abstract

Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) plantations of four different ages were examined to identify changes in the small mammal community in relation to changes in the vegetational community. Small mammals were evaluated during five seasons using two methods of trapping. Live traps accounted for 65% of captures and seven of nine species, whereas pitfall traps yielded eight species, of which two were not taken with live traps. For both trap types, catch rates averaged less than two per 100 trap-nights, very low even for pine forests. Both abundance and biomass of small mammals declined with increasing stand age, whereas species diversity increased with increasing stand age. The relative proportions of trophic groups changed after crown closure from mostly granivores and omnivores to mostly insectivores. However, after mechanical thinning of late-age stands, small mammals of forested habitats and of early successional habitats were found together. The numbers of trapped small mammals decreased progressively throughout the study. We speculate that weather events might have contributed to this pattern but the reasons are unknown.

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