Date of Award





Earth and Space Science - Environmental Science Track


Earth & Space Science

First Advisor

Arthur Cleveland


The objective of this investigation was to assess the impact of environmental variables upon small mammal species distribution in 60 plots on Fort Benning, Muscogee and Chattahoochee Counties, Georgia and Russell County, Alabama. The small mammal fieldwork was carried out in December of 1994 through January of 1995. The vegetation was inventoried in June through October of 1995. During this period, 235 small mammals were trapped in a total of 5950 trap nights. A total of 10 small mammal species and 234 plant species were identified. The small mammal species abundance's were determined by using snap trapping along the plot transect. The responses of the Blarina carolinensis, Cryptotis parva, Oryzomys palustris, Reithrodontomys humulis, Peromyscus gossypinus, Peromyscus polionotus, Ochrotomys nuttalli, Sigmodon hispidus, Neotoma floridana, and Mus musculus with respect to the the sand to clay ratio, percent slope, elevation, distance to water, number of burns, number of evergreen and deciduous species, number of grass species, number of forb species, canopy cover, understory, and percent bareground cover were evaluated and analyzed using a direct gradient analysis technique termed Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA). To evaluate the response of specific species with high abundance, a second analysis was performed to include only Reithrodontomys humulis, Peromyscus gossypinus, Peromyscus polionotus, and Sigmodon hispidus. The modified analysis was consistent with the first unmodified analysis with the exception of Sigmodon. The modified analysis showed that the most important habitat characteristic for Sigmodon was a low degree of understory. Perturbations to important microhabitat characteristics due to training or land management practices would change the distributions of several species. The four most important environmental variables with respect to how the small mammals responded to them were understory, canopy cover, the number of deciduous species, and percent bareground cover. Changes in land management practices like decreasing the frequency of burning or training practices such as the removal of vast tracts of trees would change the distribution of small mammals species.