Forrest Brown Vanderbilt, Examination Of Small Mammal Diversity In The Riparian Areas Of Walden, Tennessee
Faculty Chair: Dr. Robert Keller
It has been hypothesized that riparian zones are prime conservation habitats
and can be used as indicators of general ecosystem health (Montgomery 1996). Riparian zones, comprising a range of habitat types, typically exhibit higher biotic diversity when compared to adjacent upland hardwood forests (Batzli 1977, Cross 1985a, Cross 1985b, Doyle 1985, Knopf et al. 1988, Doyle 1990, Naimanand Decamps 1997, Ellison and van Riper III 1998, Olson and Knopf 1998). Therefore small mammal diversity and abundance should be greater in riparian areas when compared to contiguous upland hardwood forests.
The intent of this study is to compare small mammal communities living
within the two habitat types. Abundance trends were observed for two species: the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) and the eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus). Mammalian diversity of each habitat type was calculated using Shannon-Wiener indices. Demographic comparisons were made using the most prevalent species P. leucopus.
Demographic comparisons of P. leucopus were not found to be significantly
different between habitat types and survey sites. Overall species abundance and species diversity were found to be greater in the riparian area. The riparian area with a well-defined edge exhibited greatest abundance and diversity of species. This study suggests that the type of edge that defines a riparian boundary influences species abundance and species diversity.