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Persistence of Allegheny woodrats Neotoma magister across the mid-Atlantic Appalachian Highlands landscape, USA

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We examined a suite of macro-habitat and landscape variables around active and inactive Allegheny woodrat Neotoma magister colony sites in the Appalachian Mountains of the mid-Atlantic Highlands of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia using an information-theoretic modeling approach. Logistic regression analyses suggested that Allegheny woodrat presence was related positively to distance to the nearest occupied colony site and was influenced by location within physiographic subprovince. Colony sites were more likely to be active to the west (Allegheny Plateau) than the east (Blue Ridge/Piedmont), and colony sites were less likely to be active north of the Potomac River where land use and human disturbance patterns in the region were more intensive. Support also was generated for a presence-absence model that included forest cover within a 1-km radius of colony sites, although its importance was equivocal in this heavily forested region. Allegheny woodrats rely on emergent rock habitats for denning, and mast-bearing forest communities for foraging, and appear to display a metapopulation structure that is sensitive to a combination of natural and anthropogenically-induced isolation pressures that are recognizable but difficult to manage or mitigate.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2006

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