Distribution and habitat use of selected small and large mammal species in relation to different land use
Landscapes have been changing due to human activity, resulting in forest fragmentation and spreading agricultural use. Nowadays land use strategies in Central Europe are changing. However, it is yet not fully understood if and to what extend these changes in management intensity will affect the communities in according habitats. In the present study I used small and large mammals as target species, because they play a major role in forest and grassland ecosystems acting as food resource for predators, seed dispersers, as well as browsers or grazers. Small mammals were live trapped over two years in all three Exploratories. Faecal pellet group counts of large ungulates were applied in the Exploratory Schorfheide-Chorin. During small mammal live trapping I found higher species richness and animal abundance on managed than on unmanaged forest plots rising with increased structural heterogeneity. Hence, understory vegetation and coarse woody debris are very important for small mammal species in managed forest stands. Faecal pellet group counts revealed that roe deer and fallow deer clearly preferred mature pine stands. I explain the preference towards mature pine forests to be due to the dependence on high quality winter food supply. In this study small and large mammal species seemed to be affected by changes in canopy cover, which is a result of forest management and alters the light regime and structural heterogeneity on the forest floor. However, small mammals are directly determined by habitat structure and the need for cover and shelter, whereas large mammals depend on food availability affected by ground plant growth. In the future, forest management procedures should create high levels of habitat structure, if high small and large mammal diversity is desired. Nevertheless, ungulate abundances should be adjusted to enable and preserve natural regeneration of a broad spectrum of tree species in coniferous and deciduous forests.