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Effects of 3 forest management systems on herpetofaunal diversity over 23years in the Missouri Ozarks

Wolf, Alexander J., Renken, Rochelle B., Fantz, Debby K., Gao, Xiaoming, Millspaugh, Joshua J.
Forest ecology and management 2016 v.379 pp. 252-264
amphibians, forest ecosystems, forest management, forests, herpetofauna, landscapes, management systems, models, reptiles, species diversity, sustainable forestry, topographic slope, trapping, Missouri, Ozarks
Sustainable forest management is vital in today’s human-dominated landscapes. An important part of sustainable management is protecting biodiversity, including herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians). To examine the effects of landscape-scale forest management on a diverse herpetofauna community in oak-dominated forests in the Missouri Ozarks, we experimentally assessed differences in herpetofaunal diversity among 3 treatments (i.e., forest management systems) over 2 decades through the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project. We assigned 9 forest compartments to 1 of 3 blocks, such that each block contained 3 compartments, and then randomly assigned 1 compartment within each block to a treatment: even-aged; uneven-aged; or no-harvest management. Management entries occurred in 1996 and 2011. We installed 12 herpetofauna trap arrays per compartment; 6 on north and east slopes and 6 on south and west slopes. We conducted trapping for 14years during the 23year study period, and used a variety of metrics to assess diversity, including species richness, Shannon Diversity, Jaccard’s and Morisita’s Indices of Similarity, and species-list occupancy. Results indicated minimal difference in herpetofaunal diversity among treatments at the landscape-scale after 23years of management. Notable year-to-year variations in diversity were observed through time across treatments, likely due to changes in detectability. However, detection did not differ among treatments in species-list occupancy models, indicating that species richness and similarity metrics assessing differences between forest management strategies without accounting for detection are reliable for this study. We found no evidence that overall herpetofaunal diversity was negatively impacted by even-aged, uneven-aged, or no-harvest forest management in the Missouri Ozarks at the scale of forest compartments over this time period.