Association of black-tailed prairie dogs (CYNOMYS LUDOVICIANUS) with playa lakes and a new approach to estimating size of populations

Alison L. Pruett, Clint W. Boal, Mark C. Wallace, Heather A. Whitlaw, James D. Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

We studied 403 colonies of black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) in a 28,927-km 2, 12-county area of the southern High Plains, and we examined the distribution, area of colonies, size of populations, and association of these colonies with playa lakes. We used visual counts and estimated size of populations based on modeling of the proportion of a population of prairie dogs above ground at the times of surveys. Colonies in the southern High Plains were small (median = 8.8 ha), with generally small populations (median = 68), and average densities of 14 ± 22 prairie dogs/ha. Colonies were closer to playa lakes than would be expected by chance (P < 0.001), with 40% of colonies built in the basin, slopes, or both, of playa lakes compared to only 3% of 1,000 random points. The association of prairie dogs with plava lakes in the heavily cultivated area of the southern High Plains suggests thai playas are a major portion of the habitat of black-tailed prairie dogs in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-23
Number of pages5
JournalSouthwestern Naturalist
Volume54
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2009

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