Small Mammals

Deer Mouse

Why study mice, chipmunks, and shrews?

Small mammals are an important ecosystem component due to their diverse and extensive roles. They are prey for numerous predators and can impact their population sizes. As predators themselves they consume invertebrates, eggs of birds and herps, fungi, and seeds. They also serve as seed dispersers, so they aid in planting the forest. They aerate the soil by tunneling through the leaf litter and ground, which further creates habitat for species that cannot create their own tunnels, but often use them for refuge.

Why don’t we study larger mammals? To understand landscape-scale effects of forest management we have to study species with appropriate home range or territory sizes.  Small mammals have home ranges that fit within a MOFEP site. In comparison, larger mammals (e.g., deer, racoons, etc.) have much more extensive territories, and therefore we would not be able to determine what other factors might be impacting their populations.


  • Determine the effects of forest management on small mammal composition, species richness and relative abundance in Missouri Ozark oak-hickory forests.

Project Design

  • Each compartment has two –12 x 12 station trapping grids (total area= 18.7 acres/grid).
    • 144 stations per grid, each with a baited ground-based Sherman live-trap.


small mammal trap placed along log

  • Grids were placed on the north- and east-facing aspects.
  • Traps are checked daily for 6 days.
  • Trapping occurred April through May during the years before and immediately after harvests.
  • All mammal species captured are marked with an ear tag or a black marker so that recaptured individuals can be identified.

Lessons Learned

  • In 11 sampling seasons, we have recorded 7135 captures of 14 species. The most predominate species are deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) and white-footed mouse (P. leucopus).
  • Current analyses indicate that Peromyscus spp. tend to increase on even-aged and uneven-aged management compartments relative to the control compartments after a harvest but begin to return to pre-harvest levels once the canopy closes (~10 years).
  • Environmental factors can lead to large fluctuations within the population.
    • Monitoring long-term population trends allows us to separate environmental impacts from management impacts.
  • Increased availability of soft mast and insects in early-successional habitat are likely influencing deer mouse & white-footed mouse populations.
  • Most species move beyond the scale of the stand; thus, the persistence of a population is dependent on the dynamics across the landscape. As more of the MOFEP compartments are managed, cumulative effects will be monitored to advise forest management.

Management Recommendations

  • Leave down and dead wood and snags to provide cover in disturbed areas.
  • Even-aged and uneven-aged management can increase expected abundance of deer mice & white-footed mice by 50 to >100% compared to no harvest management.
    • These increases persisted at least 18 years following harvest.

Project Updates

No updates have been added to this project.

Project Datasets

No datasets have been added to this project.

Project Papers & Presentations


Mammals, MOFEP