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Concern over the status of species associated with prairie dog colonies has increased with the recent proposed listing of black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus). We monitored burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) populations and prairie dog densities in 17 black-tailed prairie dog colonies in the Nebraska panhandle between 1990 and 1996. All prairie dog colonies were controlled at least once during the study. We observed a 63% decline in nesting pairs of burrowing owls and significant declines in burrow densities. Results indicated a time lag in owl response to changes in active burrow densities. However, in the later years of the study when burrow densities were lowest, owl numbers were positively correlated...
We capitalized on a regional-scale, anthropogenic experiment?the reduction of black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) towns across the Great Plains of North America?to test the hypothesis that decline of this species has led to declines in diversity of native grassland vertebrates of this region. We compared species richness and species composition of non-volant mammals, reptiles and amphibians at 36 prairie dog towns and 36 paired sites in the Panhandle Region of Oklahoma during the summers and falls of 1997, 1998 and 1999. We detected 30 species of mammals, 18 species of reptiles and seven species of amphibians. Comparisons between communities at prairie dog towns and paired sites in the adjacent landscape...
Some populations of western burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia hypugaea) have declined in recent decades. To design and implement effective recovery efforts, we need a better understanding of how distribution and demographic traits are influenced by habitat quality. To this end, we measured spatial patterns of burrowing owl breeding habitat selection within black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colonies in northeastern Wyoming, USA. We compared burrow-, site-, colony-, and landscape-scale habitat parameters between burrowing owl nest burrows (n = 105) and unoccupied burrows (n = 85). We sampled 4 types of prairie dog colonies: 1) owl-occupied, active with prairie dogs (n = 16); 2) owl-occupied, inactive...
Black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) increasingly compete for available habitat with human development in the Colorado Front Range. Because the effects of increased urbanization on prairie dog colonies are unknown, we studied how landscape context affects prairie dog density in Boulder County, Colorado, USA. We used burrow density as a proxy for prairie dog density because these variables were correlated at our study sites (r=0.60). Using remotely sensed data and a GIS, we quantified percent urbanization, road density, and the percentage of other prairie dog colonies in the surrounding landscape at 200, 1000, and 2000 m from the perimeter of 22 prairie dog colonies, and compared burrow density with each...
Black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colonies are important to many vertebrate populations in the shortgrass prairie ecosystem. Because it is often desirable to assess black-tailed prairie dog populations, and indirect methods generally are more economical than direct counts, we tested whether aboveground counts of black-tailed prairie dogs were related to burrow entrance densities. Higher densities of burrow entrances have been assumed to reflect higher prairie dog densities. We determined if maximum aboveground counts of black-tailed prairie dogs differed temporally in morning and evening in southwestern Kansas, compared maximum aboveground count data with burrow entrance densities, and evaluated the...