If we build habitat, will they come? Woody debris structures and conservation of forest mammals

  • Published source details Sullivan T.P., Sullivan D.S., Lindgren P.M.F. & Ransome D.B. (2012) If we build habitat, will they come? Woody debris structures and conservation of forest mammals. Journal of Mammalogy, 93, 1456-1468.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Gather coarse woody debris into piles after felling

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation
  1. Gather coarse woody debris into piles after felling

    A randomized, replicated, controlled study in 2005–2010 of three forest sites in British Colombia, Canada (Sullivan et al. 2012) found that plots with piles of coarse woody debris had greater small mammal abundance than did plots where woody debris was evenly spread at one of the three sites and that species richness was higher with debris in piles across all sites or in one of three sites, depending on survey method used. More small mammals were trapped in plots with course woody debris in single piles (38/plot) or arranged in lines (37/plot) than with evenly dispersed woody debris (21/plot) at one site. There were no differences at the two other sites (piles: 18–27; dispersed: 14–23/plot). Species richness of trapped mammals followed a similar pattern at the site with an abundance difference, with more species in plots with woody debris piles (4.3–4.6/plot) than with dispersed woody debris (3.7/plot). There was no difference at the other two sites (piles: 3.3–3.9; dispersed: 3.1–3.6). However, snow-tracking surveys recorded more mammal species in plots with course woody debris piles (2.7–3.4/plot) than with dispersed woody debris (1.7/plot). Trees (dominated by lodgepole pine Pinus contorta) were harvested at three sites in 2005–2007. Each site had three randomly assigned replicates of course woody debris gathered into single piles (2–3 piles/ha, 1–3 m high), debris gathered into rows (1–3 m high) and evenly dispersed debris. Plots within a site averaged 0.6–0.8 km apart. Small mammals were live-trapped for three nights and two days, at 4–8-week intervals, in May–October of 2007–2009. Mammal tracks were surveyed, generally three days after snowfall, twice each winter, from 2007–2008 to 2009–2010.

    (Summarised by: Nick Littlewood)

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