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The Mammals of Warren Woods, Berrien County, Michigan Occasional Paper of the Museum of Zoology, Number 86   By:

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NUMBER 86 JUNE 24, 1920






Few detailed studies of the mammal associations of the forests of the United States have been made. But if we are ever to know, for our different species of mammals, the natural environments under which their evolution and differentiation occurred, we must study and describe their habitats and habitat limitations before all the native areas in the country have been altered by the activities of mankind. As a contribution to this subject the following paper is presented.

The Warren Woods are a state preserve under the Edward K. Warren Foundation. They are located in Berrien County, Michigan, about three miles north of Three Oaks. The preserve consists of about two hundred acres, of which somewhat less than half is in clearing and the remainder mostly covered by forest, much of it still nearly in its primitive condition.

[Illustration: FIG. 1. Sketch map of Warren Woods Preserve. The distribution of the various mammal habitats is indicated.]

The topography is nearly level, though the area is cut by a number of ravines draining to the Galien River, which flows through the preserve. Along the river and in its bends there are moderate sized flood plains.

On the flood plains a few small buttonbush swamps occur; and along the margins of the river a few freshly formed mud bars have not yet become forested; but most of the flood plains are covered by heavy forest. The higher ground, except that in the clearing, is covered by heavy beech maple forest.

Several types of habitats are represented in the clearing: in a few of the cleared ravines a thick growth of sedges and iris occurs; on the higher ground small areas are dominated by rushes, other areas by sedges, while the greater part is covered by grass. In parts of the clearing blackberries and other shrubs have grown up to form thickets, and in many places, especially along the edges of ravines, second growth trees of oak, maple, or beech grow in the thickets or form small groves.

The mammal habitats found on the preserve may be listed as follows:

Natural habitats

Aquatic habitat Buttonbush swamp habitat Shore habitat Mud bar herbage habitat Flood plain forest habitat Beech maple forest habitat Aerial habitat

Modified and artificial habitats

Second growth, forest and scrub habitat Cleared ravine sedge habitat Cleared upland rush habitat Cleared upland sedge habitat Cleared upland blue grass habitat Cultivated field habitat Orchard habitat Edificarian habitat

It is unfortunate that all of the area in clearing and about half of the forested area on the preserve has been and is being heavily pastured by cattle and horses. The presence of stock has changed the native conditions so much that, so far as interpreting the primitive mammal associations is concerned, little dependence can be placed on studies made in that portion of the preserve. The grass and herbage is extensively eaten off, and many of the shrubs and young trees eaten or badly mutilated. Under the pastured forest little underbrush or herbage remains, and the conditions are very poor for small mammals.

In all the forest, in the unpastured as well as in the pastured part, a number of trees have been cut out in former years, and although no trees are now being cut down, all the trees and branches which fall are being cut up for firewood. This results in there being few logs and little dead brush on the ground, and removes a favorite place for small mammal nests and runways, as well as largely eliminating as mammal food the insects and larvae which are dependent on decaying wood. However, with the exception of the removal of the logs and of a few trees, that part of the forest to the north of the river is still in practically its native condition, and it shows no evidence of ever having been pastured... Continue reading book >>

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