Great Basin Naturalist


A survey of colony attributes and associated vertebrates on black-tail (Cynomys ludovicianus), Gunnison's (C. gunnisoni), and white-tail (C. leucurus) prairie dogs was made. A belt transect 1.6 km wide and 13,334 km long from Hobbs, New Mexico, to the Utah–Wyoming state line was surveyed. There were 47 colonies located (4760 ha comprising 2.2 percent) in the belt. Intercolony distances varied significantly. Three black-tail towns averaged 33 ha in area (SD = 26, range 10–61), II Gunnison's averaged 46 ha (SD = 43, range 16–150), and 33 white-tail towns averaged 125 ha (SD = 200, range 0.2–958). Badger activity was positively and significantly correlated to colony size and number of burrow openings on Gunnison's and white-tail towns. There were 107 vertebrate species and subspecies (one amphibian, 25 reptiles, 51 birds, 30 mammals) observed on prairie dog colonies. Results of our surveys are compared with prairie dog studies elsewhere. The role of prairie dogs and relationships to some vertebrates species are discussed.