Effect of Clearcutting Operations on the Survival Rate of a Small Mammal
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Clearcutting is a common timber harvesting technique that represents a significant and abrupt change in habitat conditions for wildlife living in industrial forests. Most research on this type of impact has focused on comparing populations or communities in mature forests/plantations and the resulting clearcut stands. However, this approach does not separate the effect of changes in habitat attributes from direct mortality produced by the intensive use of heavy machinery required for cutting down trees and dragging them to a road. Because knowing the fate of individuals after a disturbance is important for modelling landscape-scale population dynamics in industrial forests, we conducted a study in South-Central Chile to understand the short-term response to clearcutting operations of the long-haired Akodont (Abrothrix longipillis), a forest specialist mouse. Between 2009 and 2013 we radio-tracked a total of 51 adult male Akodonts, before, during and after the clearcutting of the pine plantations in which they lived. A minimum of 52.4% of the individuals died as a direct cause of the timbering operations, being crushed by vehicles or logs during logging operations. Our observations suggest that, instead of fleeing the area, the response of long-haired Akodonts to the approaching machinery is to hide under the forest litter or in burrows, which exposes them to a serious risk of death. The real mortality rate associated to clearcutting may be higher than that estimated by us because of some methodological biases (i.e. individuals with crushed radiotransmitters not recorded) and the fact that additional mortality sources may affect the population in the weeks following logging operations (e.g. higher exposure to predation, effects of site preparation for the new plantation, etc).
Artículo de publicación ISI.
Quote ItemPLOS ONE March 6, 2015
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