Long-term impacts of three forest management practices on herpetofauna in the Missouri Ozarks

by

Christopher T. Rota, Alexander J. Wolf, Rochelle B. Renken, Randy G. Jensen, Robert A. Gitzen, Robert A. Montgomery, and Joshua J. Millspaugh

Post-doctoral Researcher (CTR), Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Science, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211; Resource Staff Scientist (AJW), Missouri Dept of Conservation, Forest Systems Field Station, Ellington, MO 63638; Unit Chief (RBR), Missouri Dept of Conservation, Conservation Headquarters, Jefferson City, MO 65109; Resource Scientist (RGJ), Missouri Dept of Conservation, Forest Systems Field Station, Ellington, MO 63638; Assistant Professor (RAG), School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849 ; Assistant Professor (RAM), Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824; Professor (JJM), Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Science, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211. AJW is corresponding author. To contact, call 573-663-7130 or email alex.wolf@mdc.mo.gov.

Abstract – The Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project (MOFEP) was designed to be a landscape-level experiment at least 100-years in duration to determine the effects of three different forest-management practices on multiple ecosystem components. The management practices include even-age and uneven-age forest management with timber harvests, and no-harvest management. Three study sites (ranging from 263 to 526 ha) are subjected to each of the three management practices. We sampled the herpetofauna community on the 9 different study sites using drift fence arrays with a combination of pitfall and funnel traps. Even-age and uneven-age management sites were harvested in 1996 and again in 2011, and herpetofauna sampling was conducted during 1992-1995, 1997-2001, 2008-2010, and 2012-2014, composing 15 years of sampling. Preliminary analyses through 2010 indicate that no ecological-functional group (lizards, snakes, salamanders, or anurans) was strongly affected by either even-age or uneven-age management in relation to no-harvest management. Timber harvests appear to have slightly positive impacts on lizards (5 species), whereas amphibians (7 species of salamanders and 6 species of anurans) had slightly negative trends on harvested sites compared to no-harvest sites. Snakes (10 species) as a group did not show a strong response to harvests, most likely because of the diversity of niches encompassed by this functional group in the Ozarks.