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Small Mammal Habitat Use within Restored Riparian Habitats Adjacent to Channelized Streams in Mississippi

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DOI: 10.4236/jep.2013.411149    4,050 Downloads   5,225 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

Riparian zones of channelized agricultural streams in northwestern Mississippi typically consist of narrow vegetative corridors low in habitat diversity and lacking riparian wetlands. Land clearing practices and stream channelization have led to the development of gully erosion and further fragmentation of these degraded riparian zones. Currently, installation of a gully erosion control structure (drop pipe) at the riparian zone-agricultural field interface leads to the incidental establishment of four riparian habitat types that differ in habitat area, vegetative structure, and pool size. Small mammals were sampled within four sites of each habitat type from June 1994 to July 1995. Small mammal diversity, abundance, and hispid cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus) weight were the least within smallest Type I habitats with the least vegetative structural diversity and were the greatest within the larger Type II, III, or IV habitats having greater vegetative structural diversity and pool size. Small mammal diversity and abundance were the least in the summer 1994, increased in the fall 1994, and then declined later in our study. Hispid cotton rat abundance was the least in summer 1994, winter 1994, and spring 1995 and was the greatest in fall 1994 and summer 1995. Our results suggest that modifying the drop pipe installation design to facilitate the development of larger riparian habitats with greater vegetative structural diversity will provide the greatest benefits for small mammals.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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P. Smiley Jr. and C. Cooper, "Small Mammal Habitat Use within Restored Riparian Habitats Adjacent to Channelized Streams in Mississippi," Journal of Environmental Protection, Vol. 4 No. 11, 2013, pp. 1280-1291. doi: 10.4236/jep.2013.411149.

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