The goal of resource management at Pea Ridge National Military Park (PERI) is to interpret the civil war battle that occurred there on 7-8 March 1862. One management objective is for the landscape to reflect the natural range of conditions present at the time of the battle. As the landscape has gone through a number of changes since that battle (James 2008), vegetation management practices including burning and mechanical thinning will need to return the landscape to its former view. Changing the vegetation landscape may cause changes in the species composition of small mammals that currently occur there.
The oak-hickory communities of PERI are part of the Springfield Plateau, an ecological subsection of the Ozark Highlands. Rolling hills paired with narrow hollows and broad uplands characterize this area of northwest Arkansas. The primary forested community is oak-hickory. Currently all forest types are being managed with fire (NPS 2005). Mechanical thinning will be used to thin oak forest types and to reduce the cover of the red cedar forest type. In addition to forested communities, at PERI there are grassland communities. There are two basic types. There is a warm-season grassland community which is dominated with indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) and big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) (Dale and Smith 1983) and is managed using burning (NPS 2005). A second grassland community is dominated by tall fescue (Schedonorus phoenix) and is actively managed using mowing and burning (NPS 2005).
My objective will be to survey small mammals and the associated habitat types where those small mammals occur to produce a baseline estimate against which the effects of future habitat management changes at PERI can then be assessed and to examine small mammal-habitat reltionships.