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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Biology and Microbiology

First Advisor

Nels H. Troelstrup Jr.


Although the control of point source pollution is closely regulated, water quality degradation continues to occur through non-point source impacts. These impacts can be monitored through both biotic and abiotic measures. Because biota integrate natural and anthropogenic influences over space and time, they are more useful indicators than abiotic measures alone. The effects of specific habitat disturbances on mammal communities are well documented, but the effects of cumulative impacts from habitat perturbations are poorly represented. These cumulative impacts often impair water quality within a watershed. The objectives of this study were to (1) identify the mammals utilizing the land-water interface of Oak Lake, (2) determine if sites prone to disturbance have different mammal community structure than sites not prone to disturbance, and (3) determine key mammal indicators of habitat quality for Oak Lake. A Geographical Information System (GIS) was used to identify areas of high and low disturbance potential to aid in site selection. Habitat measures were collected for comparisons among sites and linkages to mammal use. Small mammal use of littoral zone sites was determined by trapping, and medium and large mammal activity was determined by sign and sightings. Fifteen mammal species were observed within the Oak Lake littoral zone. Generally, community measures of structure showed no differences between sites prone and sites not prone to disturbance. Differences were observed in structural measurements for individual species like meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) and meadow jumping mice (Zapus hudsonius). Adult meadow voles and meadow jumping mice were more prevalent at sites not prone to disturbance, while subadults of both species were more common at sites prone to disturbance. Laboratory weights of meadow voles were greater for sites prone to disturbance. Differences were also observed in response guild comparisons. Omnivores were more common at sites not prone to disturbance and throughout the sampling season, while landscape-dependent mammals, endangered mammals, and herbivores were more prevalent at sites prone to disturbance. Results from this study suggest that individual species and response guilds may be more sensitive to the range of observed habitat characteristics than other community measures. Focusing on both structural and functional attributes of the mammal community was beneficial in quantifying the cumulative effects of habitat disturbance.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Nonpoint source pollution -- South Dakota -- Oak Lake
Mammals -- Effect of water quality on -- South Dakota -- Oak Lake


Includes bibliographical references (pages 55-59)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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