PS 48-71
A comparison of small mammal diversity among microhabitats in Shawnee State Forest and an investigation of trap efficacy for small mammal capture

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Exhibit Hall, Baltimore Convention Center
Amanda R. Porter, Natural Sciences, Shawnee State University, Portsmouth, OH
Sarah M. Minter, Natural Sciences, Shawnee State University, Portsmouth, OH

Knowledge of small mammal abundance and distribution can provide useful information for management and conservation. As primary consumers and common prey items, small mammals play a crucial role in the regulation of plant communities and carnivore populations. Aside from the documentation of species during the 1960’s and prior, little is known about the diversity, habitat preferences, or seasonal activity of small mammal species in Shawnee State Forest, Portsmouth, Ohio. Human activities, natural catastrophes, and time have influenced the suitability of this forest system for mammalian populations in the past several decades. Our study sought to document small mammal diversity, to compare diversity among microhabitats found within the forest, and to investigate the efficacy of trapping equipment. Mammalian diversity was investigated between January and April 2014. Four distinct trap types; Sherman, Trip-Trap, Pitfall, and Museum Special snap traps, were set in each of three distinct microhabitats (meadow, ecotone, and established forest) within each of six transects for a total of seventy two traps set per trap night. Trapping occurred once weekly for fifteen weeks. Our experiment was analyzed as a Randomized Completed Block design using an ANOVA with repeated measures, and a factorial treatment arrangement of habitat and trap type. 


A total of 154 specimens (89 live, 65 dead) were captured, representing 6 distinct species. Peromyscus spp. were collected most frequently (64% of all captures).  The Sherman trap was the most effective, collecting the greatest number of individuals across trap types (F= 26.7; df = 3, 1011; p < 0.0001), while the Trip-Trap was the least effective. The same capture pattern was reflected when trapping Peromyscus spp. (F = 20.1; df = 3, 1011; p < 0.0001). Sherman traps were significantly more effective at capturing S. cooperi than either Trip Traps or Pitfall Traps, while Museum traps were not different from other trap types. Sherman traps captured significantly more M. pennslyvanicus in meadows than Trip Traps, with other traps and habitats being intermediate. For S. cooperi, Sherman and Museum traps captured more specimens than Trip-Traps or Pitfall traps in meadows, with other traps and habitats being intermediate. Overall, the effect of season demonstrated significant differences in captures across weeks (F = 2.7; df = 14, 1011; p = 0.0007). Our study supports previous findings documenting that small mammal diversity is best determined using multiple trapping techniques. Also, microhabitat type influenced trap efficacy and animal activity differed across the experimental season.