European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 131, Issue 6, pp 1933–1941 | Cite as

Structure and diversity of small-mammal communities of lowland forests in the rural central European landscape

  • Josef SuchomelEmail author
  • Luboš Purchart
  • Ladislav Čepelka
Original Paper


Small-mammal communities were monitored over 4 years in South Moravian rural lowland forests in order to study relationships with various forest habitat types. Early successional sites (plantations) and forest edges maintained communities with higher abundance and diversity. Lowest total abundance was observed in unmanaged lowland forest and highest abundance in plantations with irregular undergrowth management. Low diversity was typical of non-fruiting monocultures. In plantations, both diversity and abundance were affected by herb layer removal, with sites subject to regular cutting, displaying lower levels. Significant differences in diversity and species richness were only detected between early and late successional sites, with the former showing higher values. Two basic small-mammal community groups were determined; (1) those inhabiting sites with a thick herb undergrowth and an open tree canopy (plantation) and (2) those inhabiting stands with sparse or no herb layer and a closed canopy (high forest). Forest stands support long-term populations of dominant small forest-dwelling mammal species and, as such, serve as reservoirs, even in rural landscapes dominated by intensive arable farming. Managed early succession lowland forests represent important refuges for a number of small open-habitat mammals negatively affected by intensive farming.


Diversity Lowland forest Insectivores Rodents 



The authors are very much obliged to Kevin Roche for language correction and the anonymous reviewers for improving of the manuscript. This study was supported by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic, Project No. 6215648902, and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic, Project No. QH72075.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Josef Suchomel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Luboš Purchart
    • 1
  • Ladislav Čepelka
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Forest EcologyMendel University in BrnoBrnoCzech Republic

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