Military Vehicle Training Effects on Amounts of Bare Ground and Small Mammal Biodiversity.
Jonathan Conard, Philip S. Gipson, and Donald Althoff. Kansas State Univ, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, 205 Leasure Hall, Manhattan, KS 66502-3501
Military disturbance influences the amount of vegetation and bare ground present on training areas, which may in turn alter small mammal communities in these areas. We examined the influence of military vehicle activity on bare ground and small mammal diversity on Fort Riley, Kansas in grassland areas with different levels of military disturbance. Small mammal trapping was conducted seasonally on four sites located in heavily used areas and four sites in lightly used areas. The amount of bare ground and tracks made by military vehicles were quantified for each site. The proportion of bare ground on study plots was positively associated with vehicle tracking. A negative correlation (R2 = -0.937) was observed between bare ground and Shannon diversity indices calculated for the small mammal communities. Sites with the most bare ground were dominated by deer mice Peromyscus maniculatus, and also generally had the fewest number of small mammal species present. The amount of military tracking on a plot was also negatively correlated (R2 = -0.422) with indices of Shannon diversity. These results indicate that relatively high proportions of bare ground within an area may reduce small mammal diversity.