Riparian zones of channelized agricultural
streams in northwestern Mississippi typically consist of narrow vegetative
corridors low in habitat diversity and lacking riparian wetlands. Land clearing
practices and stream channelization have led to the development of gully
erosion and further fragmentation of these degraded riparian zones. Currently,
installation of a gully erosion control structure (drop pipe) at the riparian
zone-agricultural field interface leads to the incidental establishment of four
riparian habitat types that differ in habitat area, vegetative structure, and
pool size. Small mammals were sampled within four sites of each habitat type
from June 1994 to July 1995. Small mammal diversity, abundance, and hispid
cotton rat (Sigmodonhispidus) weight were the least within
smallest Type I habitats with the least vegetative structural diversity and
were the greatest within the larger Type II, III, or IV habitats having greater
vegetative structural diversity and pool size. Small mammal diversity and
abundance were the least in the summer 1994, increased in the fall 1994, and
then declined later in our study. Hispid cotton rat abundance was the least in
summer 1994, winter 1994, and spring 1995 and was the greatest in fall 1994 and
summer 1995. Our results suggest that modifying the drop pipe installation
design to facilitate the development of larger riparian habitats with greater
vegetative structural diversity will provide the greatest benefits for small
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