Predominant use of windthrows by nesting eastern woodrats (Neotoma floridana) in the South Carolina coastal plain

Travis W. Knowles, Joseph Robert Burger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

We conducted a study of nest site selection by the eastern woodrat (Neotoma floridana) in the South Carolina coastal plain. We identified 40 active nests in three macrohabitats: a bottomland hardwood-upland pine ecotone, a southern mixed hardwood forest and a disturbed maritime forest. We further conducted an analysis of 21 microhabitat variables at 27 active nests, identified through live-trapping and release. Previous studies suggest that stick houses are preferred nest sites throughout N. floridana's range, and that dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor) may be an important indicator of woodrat habitat in North Carolina. Eastern woodrats inhabited windthrown rootmasses in 77.5% of nests at our study sites. S. minor and stick houses were completely absent from two of the three habitats. Multivariate analysis revealed that nest sites differed from paired non-nest sites by containing higher coarse woody debris and rootmass volume, and lower basal area. We recommend that N. floridana population surveys routinely include microsites previously assumed to be non-preferred alternatives. Windthrown rootmasses are forest floor resources important to N. floridana, and potentially other animals, providing complex structure distinct from coarse woody debris.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-219
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Midland Naturalist
Volume160
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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