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Road Zone Effects in Small-Mammal Communities

John A. Bissonette, USGS Utah Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Wildlands Resources, College of Natural Resources, Utah State University
Silvia A. Rosa, USGS-Utah Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Wildlands Resources, College of Natural Resources, Utah State University

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Abstract

Our study focused on the putative effects of roads on small-mammal communities in a high desert region of southern Utah. Specifically, we tested whether or not roads create adjacent zones characterized by lower small- mammal densities, abundance, and diversity. We sampled abundance of small mammals at increasing distances from Interstate 15 during two summers. We recorded 11 genera and 13 species. We detected no clear abundance, density, or diversity effects relative to distance from the road. Only two of 13 species were never captured near roads. The abundance of the remaining 11 small mammal species was either similar at different distances from the road or higher closer to the road. We conclude that although roads may act as barriers and possible sources of mortality, adjacent zones of vegetation often provide favorable microhabitat in the desert landscape for many small mammals.

Key words

density; desert; habitat quality; road ecology; species abundance; Utah; vertebrate abundance.
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087