Landscape-scale effects of intercropping switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) and Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) on rodent community structure and population demographics

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kristy L. King (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Matina Kalcounis-Rüppell

Abstract: Currently, U.S. state and federal mandates are attempting to lower fossil fuel consumption to reduce dependency on foreign oils and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Intercropping switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) in southern pine forest is a potential way to grow and harvest a biofuel feedstock without encumbering additional arable land. Rodents are important components of forest ecosystems, and intercropping switchgrass changes the understory vegetation composition and structure, which could influence rodent community structure and population demographics. To examine the sustainability of an intercropping management system, I examined whether intercropping switchgrass in intensively managed loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) plantations affected rodent community structure and population demographics in a large-scale, landscape experiment. Thus, I conducted seven intensive live-trapping sessions June-August 2012 on three intensively managed pine stands (control) and three intensively managed pine stands intercropped with switchgrass. Peromyscus spp. and Sigmodon hispidus were the most common species trapped on both treatment types. Intercropped stands had lower rodent community evenness (t = 2.79, df = 4, P = 0.02) and diversity (t = 2.64, df = 4, P = 0.03) than control stands. Sigmodon hispidus abundance was significantly higher (F1, 4 = 16.20, P = 0.02) in intercropped stands and contributed to over 86% of dissimilarity between treatments while no other species were influenced. However, there was no treatment effect on survival and recruitment. My findings indicate that intercropping switchgrass in managed pine plantations may have altered rodent community diversity by altering evenness and increasing abundance of S. hispidus, but not other species in the rodent community. Because S. hispidus is a native rodent which is commonly the most abundant rodent in southeastern pine forests, a switchgrass intercropping system to produce biofuel feedstock might be a sustainable option for planting switchgrass.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2013
Biofuel, Diversity, Intercrop, Pine, Rodent, Switchgrass
Rodent populations $x Effect of forest management on $z North Carolina
Rodents $x Habitat $z North Carolina
Loblolly pine $x Research $z North Carolina
Switchgrass $x Research $z North Carolina
Forest management $x Research $z North Carolina

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