Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (555 KB)

Title: A novel approach for assessing density and range-wide abundance of prairie dogs

Author: Facka, Aaron N.; Ford, Paulette L.; Roemer, Gary W.;

Date: 2008

Source: Journal of Mammalogy. 89(2): 356-364.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Habitat loss, introduced disease, and government-sponsored eradication programs have caused population declines in all 5 species of prairie dogs. Black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) currently occupy only about 2% of an extensive geographic range (160 million hectares) and were recently considered for listing under the United States Endangered Species Act. Accurate estimates of density for populations of prairie dogs would be valuable for estimating range-wide abundance and for determining threats to species persistence, yet estimates of density using robust approaches (e.g., complete enumeration or mark-recapture) are rarely undertaken. We introduce a novel approach to estimating density of prairie dogs using mark-resight methods. Using mark- resight, mark-recapture, and 3 other indices, we estimated the abundance of prairie dogs on 3 reintroduced colonies over a 3-year period (2003-2005). We show that mark-resight is a superior approach to estimating abundance of prairie dogs, that average density estimates from the southern extremity of the species' range are considerably lower (11.3 prairie dogs/ha) than estimates from more northerly climes ("x bar" = 1/4 18.3-90.3 prairie dogs/ ha), and that population densities can fluctuate widely in accordance with local environmental conditions. We propose that resource agencies use mark-resight methods to obtain density estimates of prairie dog populations within diverse ecoregions, and couple these estimates with an assessment of the area occupied by prairie dog colonies to determine range-wide abundance.

Keywords: Cynomys, density, Endangered Species Act, keystone species, mark-resight, prairie dog

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Facka, Aaron N.; Ford, Paulette L.; Roemer, Gary W. 2008. A novel approach for assessing density and range-wide abundance of prairie dogs. Journal of Mammalogy. 89(2): 356-364.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.