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Title: Are house counts reliable estimators of dusky-footed woodrat population size?

Author: LAUDENSLAYER, WILLIAM F.; FARGO, ROBERTA;

Date: 1999

Source: 1999 TRANSACTIONS OF THE WESTERN SECTION OF THE WILDLIFE SOCIETY 35:71-75

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: Dusky-footed woodrat (Neotoma jiocipes) abundance is often esti~nated using housc counts; a house rypically being described as a large pilc of sticks, usually built on the ground, but occasionally on tree limbs. For purposes of thc count, it is somcti~nes assunlccl that each "active" house represents one woodrat. An activc woodrat house is indicated by its appearance; fresh vegetative cuttings at the house and tlic presence of rcccntly deposited fecal pellets. Results from our ongoing study in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada suggest that, in some habitats, house counts may not be a reliable method for estimating dusky-footed woodrat population size. Woodrats frequently rcsided in atypical houses, which bore little rcsen~blance to typical houses and were often very difficult to locate, if not altogether overlooked. Tlicse included houses within tree cavities, rock crevices, and ground holes. Furthermore, individual woodrats often used and maintained more than orie house and, occasionally, more than one woodrat ' occupied or used a single house. The classical use of total house counts for population estimation of dusky-footed woodrats could potentially cause substantial errors in estimating population size.

Keywords: dusky-footed woodrat, house counts, NeotomaJi~scipes, oak woodland, population estimation, rock outcrops, Sierra Nevada, slick houses, tree cavities

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LAUDENSLAYER, WILLIAM F.; FARGO, ROBERTA 1999. Are house counts reliable estimators of dusky-footed woodrat population size?. 1999 TRANSACTIONS OF THE WESTERN SECTION OF THE WILDLIFE SOCIETY 35:71-75

 


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