Date of Award

January 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Kelly Watson

Second Advisor

Charles L. Elliott

Department Affiliation

Biological Sciences


Identifying microhabitat conditions influencing species abundance is critical to understanding distributions of species. Pine Mountain has forest types uncommon in Kentucky, but systematic small mammal surveys are dated. My objectives were: investigate variation in small mammal occurrence on Pine Mountain, and update small mammal records in the Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) mammal collection. I deployed pitfall traps, open from May - November 2021, at four state nature preserves (SNPs) on Pine Mountain. I measured microhabitat using 1 m2 quadrats at traps, then used redundancy analysis and generalized linear mixed (GLM) models to determine which conditions best explained variation in occurrence of small mammals. Most of the 95 small mammals I captured were at Bad Branch SNP and Blanton Forest SNP (79%). From the redundancy analysis, canopy openness, number of Kalmia latifolia stems, number of rocks, leaf litter depth, and elevation explained the most variation in abundances of small mammals. Sorex fumeus was more abundant at microsites with deeper leaf litter and more rocks, and less at lower elevation microsites with less canopy openness. Microtus pinetorum abundance was greater at microsites with greater canopy openness, more K. latifolia stems, and less rocky debris. GLM models suggest leaf litter depth, number of rocks, and soil temperature best explained variation in small mammal richness, whereas variation in total abundance was best explained by rocky debris, Rhododendron cover, and soil temperature. Historically, 13 records in the EKU small mammal collection originally came from Harlan and Letcher counties, out of 442 records collected in the state. Novel specimens I collected and accessioned into the EKU small mammal collection included S. fumeus and Sorex hoyi from Harlan and Letcher counties. This investigation updates EKU’s museum efforts, as well as small mammal records on Pine Mountain.