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Influence of fire on black-tailed prairie dog colony expansion in shortgrass steppe

Rangeland Ecology and Management

By:
, ,
DOI: 10.2111/1551-5028(2007)60[538:IOFOBP]2.0.CO;2

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Abstract

Factors influencing the distribution and abundance of black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colonies are of interest to rangeland managers because of the significant influence prairie dogs can exert on both livestock and biodiversity. We examined the influence of 4 prescribed burns and one wildfire on the rate and direction of prairie dog colony expansion in shortgrass steppe of southeastern Colorado. Our study was conducted during 2 years with below-average precipitation, when prairie dog colonies were expanding throughout the study area. Under these dry conditions, the rate of black-tailed prairie dog colony expansion into burned grassland (X?? = 2.6 ha??100-m perimeter-1??y-1; range = 0.8-5.9 ha??100-m perimeter-1??y-1; N = 5 colonies) was marginally greater than the expansion rate into unburned grassland (X?? =1.3 ha??100-m perimeter-1??y-1; range = 0.2-4.9 ha??100-m perimeter-1??y-1; N = 23 colonies; P = 0.066). For 3 colonies that were burned on only a portion of their perimeter, we documented consistently high rates of expansion into the adjacent burned grassland (38%-42% of available burned habitat colonized) but variable expansion rates into the adjacent unburned grassland (2%-39% of available unburned habitat colonized). While our results provide evidence that burning can increase colony expansion rate even under conditions of low vegetative structure, this effect was minor at the scale of the overall colony complex because some unburned colonies were also able to expand at high rates. This result highlights the need to evaluate effects of fire on colony expansion during above-average rainfall years, when expansion into unburned grassland may be considerably lower.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Influence of fire on black-tailed prairie dog colony expansion in shortgrass steppe
Series title:
Rangeland Ecology and Management
DOI:
10.2111/1551-5028(2007)60[538:IOFOBP]2.0.CO;2
Volume
60
Issue:
5
Year Published:
2007
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Rangeland Ecology and Management
First page:
538
Last page:
542
Number of Pages:
5