Regular issues
Special Issues

Southeastern Naturalist
    SENA Home
    Range and Scope
    Board of Editors
    Editorial Workflow
    Publication Charges

Other EH Journals
    Northeastern Naturalist
    Caribbean Naturalist
    Urban Naturalist
    Eastern Paleontologist
    Eastern Biologist
    Journal of the North Atlantic

EH Natural History Home

First Records of the Smoky Shrew (Sorex fumeus) in Alabama
Zachary Felix, Lisa J. Gatens, Yong Wang, and Callie J. Schweitzer

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 8, Number 4 (2009): 750–753

Full-text pdf (Accessible only to subscribers.To subscribe click here.)


Site by Bennett Web & Design Co.
725000 6 NOSoRuTthHeEaAstSeTrnE RNNat uNrAaTliUstR NAoLteISsT V13o(l.1 8):,3 N9–o4. 24 First Records of the Smoky Shrew (Sorex fumeus) in Alabama Zachary Felix1,2,*, Lisa J. Gatens3, Yong Wang1, and Callie J. Schweitzer4 Abstract - Conserving biodiversity in the southeastern United States begins with documenting the distribution and natural history of all taxa. Using pitfall traps between March 2005 and January 2006, we collected the first Sorex fumeus (Smoky Shrew) specimens (44) from Alabama on the Cumberland Plateau in the northeastern portion of the state. Body size of specimens was generally smaller than reported for other populations. We recommend additional surveys throughout the Cumberland Plateau region in Alabama to better document this species’ range in the state. The southern terminus of the Appalachian Mountains, including the Cumberland Plateau, is noted for its high levels of biodiversity (Odum 2002). Considering the alarming rate at which biodiversity is currently being lost at local scales in this region (Chaplin et al. 2000, Wear et al. 2004), it is critical to document the distribution of various taxa. Small insectivorous mammals, including members of the genus Sorex, are important components of many ecosystems such as those found in the Southern Appalachians (Ford et al. 2006, Van Zyll de Jong 1983). Herein we report on the presence of Sorex fumeus Miller (Smoky Shrew) in Jackson County, northeastern Alabama. This area was classed into the Cliff Section of the Cumberland Plateau in the Mixed Mesophytic Forest region by Braun (1950) and the Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Oceanic) Province and Northern Cumberland Plateau Section by Bailey et al. (1994). The area is characterized by steep slopes dissecting the Plateau surface and draining to the Tennessee River. Soils are shallow to deep, stony and gravelly loam or clay, and well-drained (Smalley 1982). Climate of the region was temperate with mild winters and moderately hot summers with a mean temperature of 13 °C and mean precipitation of 149 cm (Smalley 1982). Concurrent with a study examining silvicultural impacts to wildlife (Felix et al. 2008, Wang et al. 2006), we trapped shrews at 2 separate sites. One site was located on a south, southwest-facing slope of Miller Mountain (34°58'11"N, 86° 12'21"W), with elevations ranging from 457–518 m. The second site was located on a north-facing slope at Jack Gap (34°56'30"N, 86°04'00"W), with elevations ranging from 304–475 m. Dominant overstory tree species at both sites were oaks, including Quercus velutina Lamarck (Black Oak), Q. rubra L. (Northern Red Oak), Q. alba L. (White Oak), and Q. prinus L. (Chestnut Oak), with lesser amounts of hickories (Carya spp.), Acer saccharum Marsh. (Sugar Maple), and Liriodendron tulipifera L. (Yellow Poplar). Common understory species included Cornus fl orida L. (Flowering Dogwood), Cercis canadensis L. (Eastern Redbud), and Oxydendrum arboreum L. (Sourwood). We captured small mammals in three 20-ha blocks; two of these blocks were located at Jack Gap, and one was located at Miller Mountain. Within each block, we established a total of fifteen 15-m long drift fences (spaced ≥50 m apart), each with a 19-L pitfall trap at each end. Pitfalls were opened each month between March and August, and again in October and November of 2005 and January of 2006. Collected shrews were deposited in the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (NCSM). We captured 44 Smoky Shrews over a total of 3210 pitfall nights. Of these, 13 were males, 24 were females, and 7 were of unknown sex. Other species of small mammals that we captured included Blarina brevicauda Say (Northern Short-tailed Shrew), Sorex longirostris Bachman (Southeastern Shrew), Sorex hoyi Baird (Pygmy Shrew), Cryptotis parva Say (Least Shrew), Peromyscus leucopus Rafinesque Notes of the Southeastern Nat u ral ist, Issue 8/4, 2009 750 2009 Southeastern Naturalist Notes 751 (White-footed Mouse), Peromyscus gossypinus LeConte (Cotton Mouse), and Microtus pinetorum LeConte (Pine Vole). The mean total length of Smoky Shrews we collected (106.6 ± 0.8 SE, range = 90–120 mm) was at the lower end of the range reported for the species, even for the south-central region (Choate et al. 1994, Whitaker and Hamilton 1998). Huggins and Kennedy (1989) concluded that body size of Smoky Shrews was greatest in the central portion of its range and decreased in the northern- and southernmost populations. We collected one male (109 mm total length) with enlarged testes on 6 May, 2005. A female (109 mm total length) collected on 2 June 2005 contained two embryos, both with a 4-mm crown–rump length. Over 90% of Smoky Shrews were captured on the upper portion of a north-facing slope at Jack Gap. Within this block, shrews were captured in a variety of forest stand-types, ranging from clearcuts to those with 50% of overstory trees retained to undisturbed stands. Smoky Shrews have been found in a variety of stand types and ages in other southern Appalachian forests (Ford et al. 2002, Greenberg and Miller 2004). Our records for the Smoky Shrew are the first for Alabama (Mirarchi 2004) and extend the southwestern edge of the species’ distribution 35 km from the nearest record in Franklin County, TN (Kennedy and Harvey 1980 [Fig. 1]). Smoky Shrews have been collected from the Cumberland Plateau in Walker County, GA (Laerm et al. 1995). Two specimens in the Georgia Museum of Natural History were taken from a site in Cloudland Canyon State Park in Dade County, GA approximately 8 km east of the Alabama border. Smoky Shrews may also occur in the Sand and Pigeon Mountain areas on the Cumberland Plateau south of the Tennessee River. Additional Figure 1. Distribution of Sorex fumeus (Smoky Shrew) in the southern Appalachian Mountains. County-level localities are taken from literature sources or museums cited below the map, while the specific locations of the two sites where Smoky Shrews were detected during the present study are shown. NCSM = North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, VMNH = Virginia Museum of Natural History, and GMNH = Georgia Museum of Natural History. 752 Southeastern Naturalist Notes Vol. 8, No. 4 populations also likely occur on the Cumberland Plateau of northern Jackson and Madison counties. However, surveys by Laerm et al. (1995) did not detect Smoky Shrews in the Talladega National Forest of Alabama. The fact that Smoky Shrews remained undetected in Alabama until now points to the need for additional biotic inventories in many areas of the southeastern United States. Acknowledgments. We thank all those who helped in the field, especially Idun Guenther. Financial support was provided by the USDA Forest Service’s Southern Research Station, National Science Foundation (to YW, HUD-0420541), and the Plant and Soil Science Department and School of Agriculture and Environmental Science of Alabama A&M University. Thanks also to Stevenson Land Co. and the Alabama DCNR Lands Division for access to study sites. We thank L. McGhee (Georgia Museum of Natural History), N. Moncrief (Virginia Museum of Natural History), S. McLaren (Carnegie Museum), S. Hutchinson (University of North Carolina at Wilmington), and C. Ludwig (United States National Museum) for sharing data on specimens. The manuscript was improved by Jennifer Jordan. This publication was developed under a STAR Research Assistance Agreement No. U 916242 awarded by the US Environmental Protection Agency. It has not been formally reviewed by the EPA. The views expressed in this document are solely those of the authors. This research was carried out under Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources collecting permit # 4144. Literature Cited Bailey, R.G., P.E. Avers, T. King, and W.H. McNab (Editors). 1994. Ecoregions and subregions of the United States (map). USDA Forest Service Publication, Washington, DC. Braun, E.L. 1950. Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America. The Blackburn Press, Caldwell, NJ. 596 pp. Chaplin, S.J., R.A. Gerrand, H.M. Watson, and L.L. Master. 2000. The geography of imperilment: Targeting conservation toward critical biodiversity areas. Pp. 159–200, In B.A. Stein, L.S. Kutner, and J.S. Adams (Eds.). Precious Heritage: The Status of Biodiversity in the United States. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. 432 pp. Choate, J.R., J.K. Jones, Jr., and C. Jones. 1994. Handbook of Mammals of the South-Central States. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, LA. 304 pp. Felix, Z.I., Y. Wang, H. Czech, and C.J. Schweitzer. 2008. Relative abundance of juvenile Eastern Box Turtles in managed forest stands. Chelonian Conservation Biology 7(1):128–130. Ford, W.M., C.A. Dobony, and J.W. Edwards. 2002. Shrews in managed northern hardwood stands in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 56:374–384. Ford, W.M., T.S. McCay, M.A. Menzel, W.D. Webster, C.H. Greenberg, J.F. Pagels, and J.F. Merritt. 2006. Infl uence of elevation and forest type on community assemblage and species distribution of shrews in the central and southern Appalachian Mountains. Pp. 303–315, In J.F. Merritt, S. Churchfield, R. Hutterner, and B.I. Sheftel (Eds.). Advances in Biology of Shrews: International Society of Shrew Biologists. Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA. 468 pp. Greenberg, C.H., and S. Miller. 2004. Soricid response to canopy gaps created by wind disturbance in the southern Appalachians. Southeastern Naturalist 3:715–732. Huggins, J.A., and M.L. Kennedy. 1989. Morphologic variation in the Masked Shrew (Sorex cinereus) and the Smoky Shrew (S. fumeus). American Midland Naturalist 122:11–25. Kennedy, M.L., and M.J. Harvey. 1980. Mammals. Pp. 1–50, In D.C. Eager and R.M. Hatcher (Eds.). Tennessee Rare Vertebrates. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Tennessee Department of Conservation, Nashville, TN. 337 pp. Laerm, J., E. Brown, M.A. Menzel, and W.M. Ford. 1995. Sorex fumeus and Sorex hoyi on the Cumberland Plateau of Georgia. Georgia Journal of Science 53:153–158. 2009 Southeastern Naturalist Notes 753 Mirarchi, R.E. 2004. Alabama Wildlife. Volume 1. A Checklist of Vertebrates and Selected Invertebrates: Aquatic Mollusks, Fishes, Amphibians, Birds, and Mammals. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, AL. 209 pp. Odum, E.P. 2002. The Southeastern Region: A biodiversity haven for naturalists and ecologists. Southeastern Naturalist 1:1–12. Smalley, G.W. 1982. Classification and evaluation of forest sites on the Mid-Cumberland Plateau. USDA Forest Service, New Orleans, LA.GTR SO-38. Van Zyll de Jong, C.G. 1983. Handbook of Canadian Mammals. Volume 1. Marsupials and Insectivores. National Museum of Natural Sciences, Ottawa, ON, Canada. 212 pp. Wang, Y., A.A. Lesak, Z.I. Felix, and C.J. Schweitzer. 2006. Initial response of an avian community to silvicultural treatments in the southern Cumberland Plateau, Alabama, USA. Integrative Biology 1:126–129. Wear, D., J. Pye, and K. Riitters. 2004. Defining conservation priorities using fragmentation forecasts. Conservation Ecology 9:1–18. Whitaker, J.O., Jr., and W.J. Hamilton, Jr. 1998. Mammals of the Eastern United States. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY. 583 pp. 1Center for Forestry, Ecology, and Wildlife, Alabama A&M University, Normal, AL 35762. 2Current address - Biology Department, Reinhardt College, Waleska, GA 30183 3North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, NC 27601. 4USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Alabama A&M University, AL 35762. *Corresponding author -