Thursday, June 12, 2014

Talladega Nights

By Dr. Andrew Edelman,

The Animal Ecology and Conservation Lab at the University of West Georgia is currently studying the relationship between prescribed fire management and mammalian diversity in montane longleaf pine forests. Our primary study area is located at the Shoal Creek Ranger District of Alabama’s Talladega National Forest. This area is the southernmost portion of the Appalachian Mountains and contains some of largest remnant stands of montane longleaf pine. Part of this project involves placing baited game cameras in different prescribed fire management areas to document mesocarnivore occupancy. These sites are baited with fatty acid scent discs and sardines. Currently, we have surveyed 21 sites across the national forest. During April and May 2014, we documented two eastern spotted skunks at different sites (see pictures below). Both these sites receive prescribed fire every 8 to 12 years and have relatively low ground cover vegetation and high canopy cover and stem densities. We plan to survey more sites over the next year with an expanded focus on spotted skunks.