Biological Invasions

, Volume 20, Issue 8, pp 2173–2186 | Cite as

Hemlock woolly adelgid invasion affects microhabitat characteristics and small mammal communities

  • Allyson L. DegrassiEmail author
Original Paper


Hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) invasion and preemptive logging practices alter the habitat structure of New England forests and may indirectly affect associated small mammal communities. Microhabitat structure was measured and small mammals were censused in eight large experimental plots to quantify these effects. The Harvard Forest long-term ecological research experiment is a replicated two-block design that includes four ~ 0.81-ha canopy treatments: (1) hemlock control, (2) hardwood control, (3) girdled Treatment, in which hemlock trees were killed by girdling in 2005 and left standing to simulate HWA invasion, and (4) logged treatment, in which trees were removed to simulate preemptive logging management practices. Nine microhabitat characteristics were measured from plot photos revealing differences among ground and canopy microhabitat structure. Small mammals were censused during high (2012) and low (2013) abundant years. Populations of common species were estimated with mark-recapture analysis. Peromyscus spp. were not affected by treatment in either year, but southern red-backed vole populations were greatest in the girdled treatments in 2012 and rarely captured in 2013. Between 6 and 9 mammal species were recorded in all treatments and species composition varied slightly. Estimated species richness was greater in girdled treatments than hemlock controls, but did not differ between girdled and logged treatments, which suggests preemptive logging is as detrimental to some small mammal species as HWA invasion. Overall, there is little evidence of a major shift in small mammal community structure in response to HWA invasion, with only minor changes in relative abundance both years.


Eastern hemlocks Invasive insect Foundation species Forest disturbance Deer mice Southern red-backed voles 



I thank undergraduate researchers Elizabeth Kennett, Emma Cornin, Amy Balint, James Leitner, and Jefferson Franca de Jesus for their hard work in and out of the field. I thank Chris Degrassi for his technical support. The manuscript benefited from input from Nick Gotelli, Alison Brody, Aaron Ellison, Bill Kilpatrick, Becca Rowe, and anonymous reviewers. I would like to acknowledge funding and support I received in 2013 for this project: Harvard Forest LTER, NSF award 12-37491, NSF-GRFP, American Society of Mammologists Grant-In-Aid, and the Northeastern States Research Cooperative (NSRC) Graduate Researcher Grant, a partnership of Northern Forest states (New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and New York), in coordination with the USDA Forest Service.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Natural Resources and the EnvironmentUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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