The effect of the shrub component on small mammal populations in a sand shinnery oak ecosystem
Colbert, Randall Lynn
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The objective of this study was the assessment of the importance of the shrub component on small mammal composition and abundance in a sand shinnery oak (Ouercus havardii) ecosystem in Yoakum County, Texas. Shrubs were removed in two areas via the application of tebuthiuron at the rate of 1/2 lb. per acre. Tebuthiuron is an herbicide which will eliminate at least 90% of the shrub component in a sand shinnery oak ecosystem without damaging other components of the plant community. A "trapping web" (Anderson et al. 1983) was used to obtain a direct estimate of rodent density in each shrub removal site, as well as on each of the two control sites. Densities were then statistically compared. Because of low sample size, other population estimation techniques also were used for statistical purposes. Vegetation sampling also was done to determine the ecological variables associated with small mammal population responses. Trapping and vegetation sampling were performed during the four phenological periods of the area. Population sizes were not found to significantly differ in the treated and untreated areas. Species composition was not conclusively different in the treated and untreated areas. Overall, the shrub component in the sand shinnery oak ecosystem was found to have little effect on the small mammal populations. Rodent populations were effected more by season than by shrub removal.