Effects of vegetation differences in relocated Utah prairie dog release sites


Utah prairie dogs have been extirpated in 90% of their historical range. Because most of the population occurs on private land, this threatened species is continually in conflict with land-owners due to burrowing. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has been relocating Utah prairie dogs from private to public land since the 1970s, but relocations have been largely unsuccessful due to high mortality. Utah prairie dogs were relocated in 2010 and 2011 from the golf course in Cedar City, Utah to two prepared sites near Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Vegetation transects were established at each site to determine if there was a correlation between site vegetation composition and structure, and Utah prairie dog survival at relocation sites. The vegetation at the two sites was significantly different. One site had significantly less grass cover, more invasive plant cover, and rockier soils. The sites also had different soil structures and long-term Utah prairie dog retention rates. Newly established burrows were clustered rather than randomly distributed. Utah prairie dogs appeared to avoid placing burrows in areas with tall vegetation and rocky soils. More research is needed to determine how site selection determines longterm retention and colonization of a relocation site.

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Curtis, R. and Frey, S. (2013) Effects of vegetation differences in relocated Utah prairie dog release sites. Natural Science, 5, 44-49. doi: 10.4236/ns.2013.55A006.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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