Small mammal research
mammal research
hardwood forest

How to Cite

Taylor, P. H., & Lowman, M. D. (1996). VERTICAL STRATIFICATION OF THE SMALL MAMMAL COMMUNITY IN A NORTHERN HARDWOOD FOREST. Selbyana, 17(1), 15–21. Retrieved from


Small mammal research in forests is typically conducted with traps placed on the ground or affixed to trees at heights up to only 2 meters. In a study conducted in northwestern Massachusetts, USA, we compared these conventional methods with an innovative new technique of trapping high in the forest canopy. Using an adaptation of Malcolm's (1991, 1995) pulley method and a canopy walkway, we compared canopy-trapping to ground-trapping. Total captures per station and total number of individuals captured per station differed between canopy and ground for both dominant small mammal genera: flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) and mice (Peromyscus spp.). Ground traps were biased toward Peromyscus spp., underestimated the abundance of G. volans, and misrepresented the species composition of the small mammal community at the site. We also compared canopy-trapping with understory-trapping and found that total captures per station and total number of individuals captured per station differed between understory and canopy locations. Peromyscus was more abundant in the understory. The small mammal community was represented quite differently according to trap location, and vertical stratification of this temperate forest community was evident. We discuss implications of these results for other species (e.g. gypsy moth).


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