Year of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department or School/College
Environmental Studies Program
Brady Allred, Dan Spencer
black-tailed prairie dogs, Boulder County, ferruginous hawks, black-footed ferrets, burrowing owls
University of Montana
Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) are ecosystem regulators, significantly influencing the surrounding ecosystem. On Boulder County, Colorado Open Space and Mountain Parks land, and throughout their range, prairie dogs affect a number of ecological functions including plant dynamics and associated animals. The ability of prairie dogs to promote the wellbeing of associated plant and animal species depends on the condition of prairie dog populations. One way to evaluate the current condition of prairie dogs and predict their future impact on the ecosystem is to evaluate the status of prairie dogs in relation to specific indicators. I address the ecological status of black-tailed prairie dogs on Open Space and Mountain Parks land based on seven selected indicators, encompassing prairie dog living dynamics, associated plant dynamics, and associated animals. Based on available data, I analyze six indicators. I then make management recommendations based on my findings. Future management should consider the ability of prairie dogs to persist in a manner that benefits prairie dog populations and, by association, other native species and ecological functions. Management must also consider the impact and influence of human development on prairie habitat within open space land, and the potential for collaborative management to sustain prairie dog populations and encourage whole ecosystem health. Failure to manage prairie dogs for the health of the prairie ecosystem could result in the decline of prairie dogs, as well as a host of functions and associated species.
Caldwell, Rachel A., "ECOLOGICAL STATUS OF BLACK-TAILED PRAIRIE DOGS ON BOULDER, COLORADO OPEN SPACE AND MOUNTAIN PARKS LAND: AN ANALYSIS OF SELECT INDICATORS" (2015). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 4462.
© Copyright 2015 Rachel A. Caldwell