This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Effect of Age of Forest on Mammals in the Upper Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, Alabama




Gay, Michael

Type of Degree



Biological Sciences


Ecosystems provide services to humans through ecological processes, raw materials, and aesthetics, but these services often are negatively impacted by human activities. Flood-prone riparian areas are called upon increasingly to provide these services, but these areas, while being naturally impacted by flooding, are further impacted by human activities such as harvest of timber. The Mobile-Tensaw River Delta historically has been used for harvesting timber, but large portions of it recently have been placed in the public trust. This study examined relationships between age of forest and composition of mammalian communities. By using traps and monitoring cameras, I surveyed northern portions of the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta for mammals. Age of forest, dominant species of canopy tree, and type of habitat were recorded for each area surveyed. While robust populations of two mesopredators, Procyon lotor and Didelphis virginiana, occurred throughout the study area, few small mammals were captured. Average age of forest was not significantly different where small mammals were captured compared to average age of forest where small mammals were not captured. Dominant species of overstory tree was not different among sites where small mammals were captured and sites where small mammals were not captured. Age of forest, dominant species of tree, and type of habitat were not significantly different for sites where mesopredators were recorded compared to areas where mesopredators were not recorded. Further studies are needed to fully understand the dynamics of small mammals in this area and how periods of extensive drought and flooding might affect them.