Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Jerry R. Choate
Forested ecosystems in North America are being fragmented by an increasing number of power line rights-of-way without a full understanding of the effect these disturbances have on natural ecosystems. Small mammal activity was monitored along power line rights-of-way (power line sites) and adjacent subalpine forest habitat (forest sites) in Clear Creek Co., Colorado. Both power line and forest sites were divided into right-of-way, edge, and forest habitat for comparative purposes. I was unable to statistically determine whether power line and forest sites differed in mean estimated abundance and species composition of small mammals. Power line sites did have more captures, however, perhaps because of an edge effect. The deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) was the most common small mammal at power line sites, whereas the southern red-backed vole (Clethrionomys gapperi) was the most prevalent species at forest sites. More least chipmunk (Tamias minimus) were captured at power line sites than at forest sites, perhaps because of this species preference for open, early-succession habitat. The cinereus shrew (Sorex cinereus) and C. gapperi preferred the forest habitat of power line sites. I think these species habitat associations are caused by their preference for mesic areas. The least chipmunk showed a preference for habitat within the power line right-of-way, likely because of its preference for early-succession habitat. Clethrionomys gapperi exhibited a significant increase in capture rate farther from the right-of-way at power line and forest sites. Peromyscus maniculatus crossed the power line right-of way in their natural movements, whereas C. gapperi were not recorded as crossing the power line right-of-way. Tamias minimus, red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus). C. gapperi, and P. maniculatus translocated at power line sites were capable of crossing the power line right-of-way.
Copyright 2002 Jonathan J. Storm
Storm, Jonathan J., "Effect of Powerline Rights-of-Way on Small Mammal Diversity and Movement in the Rocky Mountains of North-Central Colorado" (2002). Master's Theses. 2867.