Effects of fire and mowing on expansion of reestablished black-tailed prairie dog colonies in Chihuahuan Desert grasslands

TitleEffects of fire and mowing on expansion of reestablished black-tailed prairie dog colonies in Chihuahuan Desert grasslands
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsFord P.L., Andersen M.C., Fredrickson E.L., Truett J., Roemer G.W.
Conference Name2002 Fire Conference
Date PublishedDecember 2-5, 20
Conference LocationSan Diego, CA
ARIS Log Number144521
AbstractBlack-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) currently occupy less than 2% of their historical range. This decline is due to eradication programs, habitat loss, and introduced pathogens. Active conservation measures for this species, including reintroduction, are underway in a number of areas. Prairie dogs are a key species in grassland ecosystems because of their effects on landscape pattern and ecosystem process. As part of a larger study of reciprocal effects of landscape and ecosystem factors on establishment and growth of prairie dog colonies, we investigated the effects of fire and mowing on numerical growth and aerial expansion of colonies reintroduced into the northern Chihuahuan Desert. On each of three colonies, established in 1998-1999 and ranging from 1.27 to 8 ha, we established six 50x50m experimental plots randomly assigned to burn or mowing treatments. The response variable was the number of new burrows appearing in each experimental plot. Results show no significant differences in the number of new burrows in burned vs. mowed plots; therefore, fire and mowing can be used interchangeably as management tools to reintroduce prairie dogs.