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Interspecific comparisons of sylvatic plague in prairie dogs

Journal of Mammalogy

By:
and
DOI: 10.1644/1545-1542(2001)082<0894:ICOSPI>2.0.CO;2

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Abstract

Of the 3 major factors (habitat loss, poisoning, and disease) that limit abundance of prairie dogs today, sylvatic plague caused by Yersinia pestis is the 1 factor that is beyond human control. Plague epizootics frequently kill >99% of prairie dogs in infected colonies. Although epizootics of sylvatic plague occur throughout most of the range of prairie dogs in the United States and are well described, long-term maintenance of plague in enzootic rodent species is not well documented or understood. We review dynamics of plague in white-tailed (Cynomys leucurus), Gunnison's (C. gunnisoni), and black-tailed (C. ludovicianus) prairie dogs, and their rodent and flea associates. We use epidemiologic concepts to support an enzootic hypothesis in which the disease is maintained in a dynamic state, which requires transmission of Y. pestis to be slower than recruitment of new susceptible mammal hosts. Major effects of plague are to reduce colony size of black-tailed prairie dogs and increase intercolony distances within colony complexes. In the presence of plague, black-tailed prairie dogs will probably survive in complexes of small colonies that are usually >3 km from their nearest neighbor colonies.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Interspecific comparisons of sylvatic plague in prairie dogs
Series title:
Journal of Mammalogy
DOI:
10.1644/1545-1542(2001)082<0894:ICOSPI>2.0.CO;2
Volume
82
Issue:
4
Year Published:
2001
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Journal of Mammalogy
First page:
894
Last page:
905
Number of Pages:
12