Long-term impacts of three forest management strategies on herpetofauna abundance in the Missouri Ozarks

Christopher T. Rota, Alexander J. Wolf, Rochelle B. Renken, Robert A. Gitzen, Debby K. Fantz, Robert A. Montgomery, Matthew G. Olson, Larry D. Vangilder, Joshua J. Millspaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Herpetofauna play a critical role in forest ecosystems as key components of biodiversity. Although there have been many studies of forest management impacts on herpetofauna, the majority investigate a small number of species or are limited in spatio-temporal scale. We examined the response of 28 species of herpetofauna to forest management through the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project (MOFEP), a long-term, landscape-scale experiment comparing even-age, uneven-age, and no-harvest management strategies. We assessed counts of each species at the local (stand-level) and landscape (compartment-level) scales before and up to 18 years after forest management activities. Four species showed a response at the compartment level; we captured fewer of two species in even-age compartments, more of one species in uneven-age compartments, and fewer of one species in uneven-age compartments. At the stand-level, we documented variable responses to regeneration methods across species and through time. For example, we captured more of all lizard species and some snake species in stands with greater disturbance, such as clearcuts or group openings. For other snakes, salamanders, and toads, we captured more individuals in stands of intermediate disturbance such as intermediate thin and single-tree selection. All lizards exhibited immediate reactions to regeneration methods, but captures subsequently declined through time. Other species, particularly amphibians, took more than a decade to return to pre-treatment capture rates. Overall, it appears that uneven-age and even-age management may enhance herpetofauna diversity at the landscape scale, despite lower counts of some species, when regeneration activities such as clearcutting and single-tree selection occur on a limited and spatially disjunct proportion of each compartment during each management entry. After 23 years of study, even-age, uneven-age, and no-harvest forest management strategies appear sustainable with regard to herpetofauna diversity in the Central Hardwoods region of the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-51
Number of pages15
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Volume387
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

Keywords

  • Amphibians
  • Even-aged management
  • Hierarchical models
  • MOFEP
  • Reptiles
  • Uneven-aged management

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