Use shelterwood harvesting

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • Two studies evaluated the effects of shelterwood harvesting on reptile populations. Both studies were in the USA.


  • Richness/diversity (1 study): One replicated, randomized, controlled, before-and-after study in the USA found that shelterwood harvesting had mixed effects on reptile species richness compared to areas with no management.


  • Abundance (2 studies): One replicated, randomized study in the USA found that areas with shelterwood harvesting had a lower abundance of juvenile eastern box turtles than clearcut areas. One replicated, randomized, controlled, before-and-after study in the USA found that shelterwood harvesting had mixed effects on reptile abundance compared to areas with no management.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated, randomized study in 2001–2005 in three sites of secondary broadleaf forest in Alabama, USA (Felix et al. 2008) found that using shelterwood harvesting resulted in lower abundance of juvenile eastern box turtles Terrapene carolina Carolina compared to areas that were clearcut. Abundance was lower in shelterwood plots (0.001 turtles/trap night) compared to clearcut plots (0.002 turtles/trap night). In autumn 2001, three sites were split in to three plots (4 ha plots), and plots were randomly selected for shelterwood harvesting (25–50% tree retention; 2 plots/site) or clearcutting (0 % retention, 1 plot/site). Trees were felled with a chainsaw and dragged out (using a grapple skidder). In July–August 2002 and March–September 2003–2005, three drift fences (15 m long) and three artificial pools for capturing reptiles (91 x 61 x 46 cm, buried in centre of each plot) were installed in each plot. Drift fences were opened intermittently for periods of five days and checked daily for a total of 1,455–1,575 trap nights/patch.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, randomized, controlled, before-and-after study in 2008–2014 in an upland mixed oak forest in the Appalachians, USA (Greenberg et al. 2016) found that shelterwood harvesting increased lizard but not overall reptile and snake species richness and abundance compared to no management. Overall lizard species richness and capture rates increased after shelterwood harvesting (species richness: 0.8–1.5 species/100 fence nights, abundance: 0.5–1.3 individuals/100 fence nights) compared to no management (0, 0–0.1). Overall reptile and snake species richness and abundance were similar after shelterwood harvesting (overall reptile abundance: 0.7–1.7 captures/100 fence nights), compared to no management (overall reptile abundance: 0.2–0.7 captures/100 fence nights; snake abundance and all reptile and snake species richness data presented as model outputs). See paper for changes in individual species abundances. Shelterwood harvesting was carried out in 2009–2010 in 4–5 replicate plots of 225 x 225 m.  Trees were felled with chainsaws and grapple cutters and dragged to log landings. Monitoring took place using drift fences, pitfall and funnel traps in May-August one year pre-treatment (2008) and five years post treatment (sampled in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014). Plots of the same size and number without any management applied were monitored at the same time.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Sainsbury K.A., Morgan W.H., Watson M., Rotem G., Bouskila A., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2021) Reptile Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for reptiles. Conservation Evidence Series Synopsis. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

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Reptile Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Reptile Conservation
Reptile Conservation

Reptile Conservation - Published 2021

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