Carnivores were recorded at prairie dog towns and non-prairie dog town paired sites in the Oklahoma Panhandle over 4 sampling sessions from October 1995 to February 1997. We established carnivore presence through the use of baited tracking plates dusted with chalk and matched with infrared-triggered cameras. Five carnivore species were recorded at both prairie dog towns and paired sites across the Oklahoma Panhandle. Of these, 4 were recorded with sufficient regularity to permit analyses. Carnivores were analyzed at prairie dog towns across the entire Panhandle and in the Panhandle's westernmost county (Cimarron County) only. Canids showed no significant preference for prairie dog towns or other areas. In the Oklahoma Panhandle and Cimarron County only, occurrence of swift fox (Vulpes velox) between prairie dog towns and control sites was insignificant. Badgers (Taxidea taxus) and spotted skunks (Spilogale putorius) occurred significantly more often at prairie dog towns in Cimarron County but not in the Panhandle. No single mustelid species showed a significant association with either prairie dog towns or non-prairie dog town habitats. Our results indicate that whereas prairie dog towns do attract some carnivore species, the presumption that prairie dogs are "keystone species" for so many organisms (especially threatened or endangered species) in the current plains ecosystem may not be as clear as previously thought.
Shaughnessy, Michael J. Jr. and Cifelli, Richard L.
"Influence of black-tailed prairie dog towns (Cynomys ludovicianus) on carnivore distributions in the Oklahoma Pandhandle,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 64
, Article 5.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol64/iss2/5