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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Use thinning of forest instead of clearcutting Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Key messages

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  • One study evaluated the effects on mammals of using thinning of forest instead of clearcutting. This study was in the USA.




  • Use (1 study): A replicated, controlled study in the USA found that thinned forest areas were used more by desert cottontails than were fully cleared or uncleared areas.

Supporting evidence from individual studies


A replicated, controlled study in 1965–1968 of pinyon-juniper forest at a site in New Mexico, USA (Kundaeli & Reynolds 1972) found that in areas where trees were thinned, more desert cottontail Sylvilagus auduboni faecal pellets were counted than in fully cleared areas or uncleared areas. Results were not tested for statistical significance. In thinned plots, there were 2.7 cottontail pellets/ft2 compared to 1.0 pellets/ft2 where trees were cleared (uprooted and burned) and 2.4 pellets/ft2 where trees were left unmanaged. In each of two blocks, there was one plot with trees thinned to 100 trees/acre, one with all trees uprooted, piled up and burned and one with trees left unmanaged. Plots covered 300–500 acres each. Treatments were carried out in 1965. Cottontail pellets were counted at randomly selected sample points in treatment plots in 1968.

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Littlewood, N.A., Rocha, R., Smith, R.K., Martin, P.A., Lockhart, S.L., Schoonover, R.F., Wilman, E., Bladon, A.J., Sainsbury, K.A., Pimm S. and Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Terrestrial Mammal Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for terrestrial mammals excluding bats and primates. Synopses of Conservation Evidence Series. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.