Effects of Forest Fuels Reduction on Small Mammals in the Lake Tahoe Basin
AuthorAppleby, Scott Michael
AdvisorFeldman, Chris R
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Long-standing policies of fire suppression, common throughout the Western United States, have resulted in unnaturally high fuel loads within the Lake Tahoe Basin. The swollen reservoir of fuel from downed wood, brush, small trees and other large woody plants poses a danger to the forest by increasing the intensity of wildfires. Fuels reduction and forest restoration treatments are used to thin the forest and remove excess ground fuels to mitigate the risk of catastrophic wildfire. To investigate the impact of two types of these treatments on the small mammal community in the Lake Tahoe Basin, a before-after control-impact study was designed and surveys of forest structure and small mammals conducted prior to and after the completion of treatment activities at six sites to the west and northwest of Lake Tahoe. I found that the small mammal community does not seem to respond strongly to treatment, though the intensity of treatment does differentially affect abundance of some species. This may bode well for small mammal communities in the Sierra Nevada as larger areas of forest continue to be treated, but long-term data is needed to better assess small mammal responses to treatment activities that may not have been detected by our short-term study.