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Anthropogenic influences on macro-level mammal occupancy in the Appalachian Trail corridor.

Erb PL, McShea WJ, Guralnick RP - PLoS ONE (2012)

Bottom Line: Anthropogenic effects on wildlife are typically assessed at the local level, but it is often difficult to extrapolate to larger spatial extents.Here we assess anthropogenic effects on occupancy and distribution for several mammal species within the Appalachian Trail (AT), a forest corridor that extends across a broad section of the eastern United States.Roads had the lowest predictive power on species occupancy within the corridor and were only significant for deer.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, United States of America. Peter.Erb@colorado.edu

ABSTRACT
Anthropogenic effects on wildlife are typically assessed at the local level, but it is often difficult to extrapolate to larger spatial extents. Macro-level occupancy studies are one way to assess impacts of multiple disturbance factors that might vary over different geographic extents. Here we assess anthropogenic effects on occupancy and distribution for several mammal species within the Appalachian Trail (AT), a forest corridor that extends across a broad section of the eastern United States. Utilizing camera traps and a large volunteer network of citizen scientists, we were able to sample 447 sites along a 1024 km section of the AT to assess the effects of available habitat, hunting, recreation, and roads on eight mammal species. Occupancy modeling revealed the importance of available forest to all species except opossums (Didelphis virginiana) and coyotes (Canis latrans). Hunting on adjoining lands was the second strongest predictor of occupancy for three mammal species, negatively influencing black bears (Ursus americanus) and bobcats (Lynx rufus), while positively influencing raccoons (Procyon lotor). Modeling also indicated an avoidance of high trail use areas by bears and proclivity towards high use areas by red fox (Vulpes vulpes). Roads had the lowest predictive power on species occupancy within the corridor and were only significant for deer. The occupancy models stress the importance of compounding direct and indirect anthropogenic influences operating at the regional level. Scientists and managers should consider these human impacts and their potential combined influence on wildlife persistence when assessing optimal habitat or considering management actions.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Map of study area and distribution of survey sites along the Appalachian Trail.The 2006 National Land Cover Data is used to indicate forest (green), agricultural (yellow), and urban (red/gray) land use.
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pone-0042574-g001: Map of study area and distribution of survey sites along the Appalachian Trail.The 2006 National Land Cover Data is used to indicate forest (green), agricultural (yellow), and urban (red/gray) land use.

Mentions: We focused efforts along a 1024 km section of the AT from Pennsylvania to North Carolina (Figure 1). Data were collected over three survey years. In 2007 and 2008, the study was conducted from April to November on a 756 km segment of the AT in Maryland and Virginia. During 2009, the 2007–2008 study area was expanded to include areas to the north (Pennsylvania) and south (North Carolina, Tennessee) for an additional 268 km. This subsection represents the Appalachian-Blue Ridge forest ecosystem [9]. The forest within the study area consists primarily of Northeastern Interior, Southern and Central Appalachian Oak Forests (72%), Southern and Central Appalachian Cove Forest (18%), and other mixed hardwood forest types (<10%) [21].


Anthropogenic influences on macro-level mammal occupancy in the Appalachian Trail corridor.

Erb PL, McShea WJ, Guralnick RP - PLoS ONE (2012)

Map of study area and distribution of survey sites along the Appalachian Trail.The 2006 National Land Cover Data is used to indicate forest (green), agricultural (yellow), and urban (red/gray) land use.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3412793&req=5

pone-0042574-g001: Map of study area and distribution of survey sites along the Appalachian Trail.The 2006 National Land Cover Data is used to indicate forest (green), agricultural (yellow), and urban (red/gray) land use.
Mentions: We focused efforts along a 1024 km section of the AT from Pennsylvania to North Carolina (Figure 1). Data were collected over three survey years. In 2007 and 2008, the study was conducted from April to November on a 756 km segment of the AT in Maryland and Virginia. During 2009, the 2007–2008 study area was expanded to include areas to the north (Pennsylvania) and south (North Carolina, Tennessee) for an additional 268 km. This subsection represents the Appalachian-Blue Ridge forest ecosystem [9]. The forest within the study area consists primarily of Northeastern Interior, Southern and Central Appalachian Oak Forests (72%), Southern and Central Appalachian Cove Forest (18%), and other mixed hardwood forest types (<10%) [21].

Bottom Line: Anthropogenic effects on wildlife are typically assessed at the local level, but it is often difficult to extrapolate to larger spatial extents.Here we assess anthropogenic effects on occupancy and distribution for several mammal species within the Appalachian Trail (AT), a forest corridor that extends across a broad section of the eastern United States.Roads had the lowest predictive power on species occupancy within the corridor and were only significant for deer.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, United States of America. Peter.Erb@colorado.edu

ABSTRACT
Anthropogenic effects on wildlife are typically assessed at the local level, but it is often difficult to extrapolate to larger spatial extents. Macro-level occupancy studies are one way to assess impacts of multiple disturbance factors that might vary over different geographic extents. Here we assess anthropogenic effects on occupancy and distribution for several mammal species within the Appalachian Trail (AT), a forest corridor that extends across a broad section of the eastern United States. Utilizing camera traps and a large volunteer network of citizen scientists, we were able to sample 447 sites along a 1024 km section of the AT to assess the effects of available habitat, hunting, recreation, and roads on eight mammal species. Occupancy modeling revealed the importance of available forest to all species except opossums (Didelphis virginiana) and coyotes (Canis latrans). Hunting on adjoining lands was the second strongest predictor of occupancy for three mammal species, negatively influencing black bears (Ursus americanus) and bobcats (Lynx rufus), while positively influencing raccoons (Procyon lotor). Modeling also indicated an avoidance of high trail use areas by bears and proclivity towards high use areas by red fox (Vulpes vulpes). Roads had the lowest predictive power on species occupancy within the corridor and were only significant for deer. The occupancy models stress the importance of compounding direct and indirect anthropogenic influences operating at the regional level. Scientists and managers should consider these human impacts and their potential combined influence on wildlife persistence when assessing optimal habitat or considering management actions.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus