Background information and definitions
Through fire suppression, some forest areas have developed denser mid-storey vegetation (trees at intermediate height between the ground layer and the forest canopy) than was formerly the case. To reduce wildfire risk and for habitat restoration purposes, mid-storey vegetation may be removed either mechanically or through prescribed burning. This intervention considered specifically manual or mechanical removal of mid-storey vegetation and how this may affect forest mammals.
See also: Use prescribed burning.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A randomized, replicated, controlled study in 1992–1994 of pine-grassland in a mountainous area of Arkansas, USA (Masters et al. 1998) found that after removing mid-storey vegetation, mammal abundance and species richness increased. Small mammal trapping success was higher in mid-storey-removal plots (caught in 3.8–7.4% of traps) than in unmanaged plots (0.9–2.2% of traps). Average species richness was higher in mid-storey removal plots (1.7–4.7 species) than in unmanaged plots (1.3–2.7 species). Forest mid-storey was mechanically removed in 14–45-ha plots. Management timing is unclear, but the practice was initiated in the study area in 1990, primarily to benefit red-cockaded woodpeckers Picoides borealis. Small mammals were live-trapped at 80 stations/plot from 27 December to 4 January. Surveys were conducted in three plots in 1992–1993 and three different plots in 1993–1994. At the same time, sampling was conducted in three plots with retained mid-storey vegetation.Study and other actions tested