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Small mammal habitat use within restored riparian habitats adjacent to channelized streams in Mississippi

Smiley Jr., Peter C., Cooper, Charles M.
Journal of Environmental Protection 2013 v.4 pp. 1280
Sigmodon hispidus, agricultural watersheds, erosion control, gully erosion, habitat conservation, habitats, population size, rats, riparian areas, small mammals, species diversity, stream channels, vegetation structure, wetlands, Mississippi
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 has 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 the greatest within the larger Type II, III, or IV habitats having greater vegetative structural diversity and pool size. 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.