Committee Chair

Aborn, David A.


Dept. of Biology, Geology, and Environmental Science


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Mammal Diversity Mammal species were surveyed in the North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area using various methods of observation. Sixteen mammal species were detected in the natural area, 14 of which were previously undocumented. The whitefooted mouse and the raccoon were the most abundant species. There are additional mammal species that may occur in the natural area but were not documented during this survey. Future surveys should place an emphasis on locating these species. The natural area will become more important for maintaining biodiversity as development proceeds in the surrounding area. However, the success of the natural area can only be assessed once all the species have been identified and monitoring programs are put into place. Relative Distributions of Mammalian Carnivores The effects of internal habitat fragmentation caused by a transmission line right of-way on the relative distributions of mammalian predators were studied in the North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area in preliminary and primary investigations. Larger mammalian carnivores were predicted to be more concentrated in the transmission line right-of-way, whereas small to medium-sized mammalian predators (i.e., mesopredators) were predicted to be more concentrated in the adjacent forested areas. For the preliminary investigation, five transects containing scent stations were constructed in and surrounding the right-of-way. The tracks of 13 large mammalian carnivores and 39 mesopredators were detected. No significant differences were detected in the distributions of either the large mammalian carnivores or the mesopredators. However, there were noticeable trends that warranted further investigation. For the primary investigation, a series of six transects containing aluminum track plates was constructed in and surrounding the right-of-way. The tracks of 14 large mammalian carnivores and 36 mesopredators were detected. The large mammalian carnivores exhibited a strong preference for the transmission line right-of-way consistent with predictions. In contrast, the mesopredators were distributed more uniformly, yielding no significant differences in their distributions. The higher-than-expected occurrence of mesopredators in the right-of-way may have been temporal variations caused by dietary enhancements during particular times of the year. Top carnivores, although few in numbers are important in structuring biological communities. In particular, they limit the effects of mesopredators on the broader ecological community. In the natural area, these relationships should be maintained by the presence of top carnivores. However, more research is needed to confirm this in order to ensure that biodiversity is preserved in accordance with the goals of the natural area.


I am greatly indebted to and wish to thank all those who were involved in helping me successfully complete my thesis for the degree of Master of Science. I thank my committee members, including my committee chair, Dr. David Abom, and Dr. Timothy Gaudin, and Dr. John Tucker, for their insightfulness, advice, and guidance throughout the process. I also thank the many people who assisted me with field research and data collection, including Dr. Abom, Dr. Gaudin, Brooks May, Sara Ray, Ford Mauney, Brian Yates, Amy Smith, and the 2005 Mammalogy class. I thank Dr. Sean Richards and Dr.Gaudin for the use of small mammal traps and related field equipment. I thank Andy Carroll for his instruction and guidance with GIS while creating the maps of my study area. My research was partially funded through the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Financial support was also received through Dr. Abom. The Graduate Student Association at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga provided support through a data collection award, and the Provost provided support through a student research award.


M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.




Animal diversity conservation; Fragmented landscapes


Natural Resources and Conservation

Document Type

Masters theses




viii, 65 leaves



Call Number

LB2369.2 .S647 2006