Grazing and wildfire effects on small mammals inhabiting montane meadows

Valerie J. Horncastle, Carol L Chambers, Brett G Dickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Livestock grazing and fire can intensively modify montane meadows. Understanding how these factors affect habitat, species richness, and diversity of small mammals can inform management decisions. Few studies have investigated the independent and synergistic effects of grazing and wildfire on vegetation and small-mammal communities, and none have focused on montane meadows in the southwestern United States. In 2012 and 2013, we captured small mammals at 105 sites to contrast occupancy, species richness, and diversity among livestock grazing levels (present, absent), wildfire severity (unburned, low, or moderate), and meadow classifications (small or large, wet or dry) in Arizona, USA. During 13,741 trap nights, we captured 1,885 rodents of 8 species. Two species represented 88% of captures: deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) and Arizona montane vole (Microtus montanus arizonensis). Deer mice, Navajo Mogollon voles (Microtus mogollonensis navaho), and thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus monticola; a subspecies endemic to the White Mountains, AZ) had higher occupancy in large, ungrazed meadows compared to small, grazed meadows. Species richness was greater in unburned than burned sites and small meadows than large. However, higher diversity occurred in ungrazed and dry compared to grazed and wet meadows. Three species demonstrated weak relationships between wildfire and occupancy, suggesting short-term (<2 yrs) effects of low to moderate burn severity for these species or their habitat. Livestock grazing had a greater effect than wildfire on the small-mammal community by altering vegetation or other habitat elements and thus decreasing population sizes. Reducing livestock grazing would benefit small-mammal species and increase diversity and abundance of the small-mammal community in montane meadows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Wildlife Management
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Fingerprint

small mammal
wildfires
small mammals
wildfire
meadow
meadows
grazing
livestock
species diversity
Peromyscus
Microtus
species richness
deer
habitat
habitats
Peromyscus maniculatus
vegetation
Southwestern United States
effect
squirrels

Keywords

  • Ictidomys tridecemlineatus
  • livestock grazing
  • meadow size
  • Microtus
  • occupancy modeling
  • Peromyscus
  • White Mountains
  • wildfire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Cite this

Grazing and wildfire effects on small mammals inhabiting montane meadows. / Horncastle, Valerie J.; Chambers, Carol L; Dickson, Brett G.

In: Journal of Wildlife Management, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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