Small mammals play key ecological roles in grassland ecosystems, yet little is known regarding small mammal communities in large (>50 km 2), high-elevation prairies embedded in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests in north central Arizona. To provide information on community composition and habitat relationships, we live-trapped small mammals on 6 transects in 2 prairies in 2008. We captured 78 individuals in 5501 trap occasions. Capture rates were low and varied widely among transects. Community composition was simple, with only 3 species of small mammals captured. In order of relative abundance, these species were deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus, n = 44 individuals), Mogollon vole (Microtus mogollonensis, n = 22), and spotted ground squirrel (Spermophilus spilosoma, n = 12). Deer mice were captured on all transects and voles on all but one transect. In contrast, spotted ground squirrels were captured on only 2 transects and were relatively common on only one transect. There were no previous records of spotted ground squirrels in these prairies. Deer mice were positively associated with rock cover and vegetation height. Voles were positively associated with shrub cover and combined cover of live and dead vegetation and were negatively associated with bare ground. Spotted ground squirrels were positively associated with forb cover. This study provides baseline data on small mammal communities in these prairies and documents the presence of a previously unknown species. Further studies would be desirable to better understand spatial and temporal variation in these communities, habitat relationships, and effects of land-use practices on small mammals and their habitats.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics