Prairie Dog Blog

prairie dog biology research

Report from the field May 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lorensackett @ 19:21

The prairie dogs are outsmarting me.  Again.

The site we are visiting this week is located at a recreation area, and yesterday (a beautiful sunny Sunday), dozens of people were out fishing, kayaking, and swimming at the lake adjacent to the colony.  Prairie dogs are already vigilant of potential predators, and their wariness is amplified when many people are around.  It is perhaps not surprising, then, that in a colony of low density, we have been unable to catch any prairie dogs in two days… We will keep trying.

In the meantime, we have seen a few other critters– different species than we have on black-tailed prairie dog colonies in Boulder.  In Boulder, we have seen Thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Spermophius tridecemlineatus), prairie rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridus viridus), bull snakes (Pituophis catenifer sayi), desert cottontails (Sylvilagus adubonii), deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) and many insects and spiders (sorry, I need help with this type of classification…).

Desert cottontail at prairie dog burrow entrance



The search continues May 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lorensackett @ 04:28

During the last few weeks, I have spent all my time trying to find prairie dogs.  A simple task in Boulder, it has proven to be tricky with the shier Gunnison’s prairie dog (Cynomys gunnisoni), which live in less densely populated colonies and do not clip vegetation the way that black-tails (C. ludovicianus) do.  Because of these two life history traits, they are much less conspicuous, and can be difficult to spot even when you know you’re at a colony.  Furthermore, plague seems to be taking a heavy toll on populations at the edge of the Gunnison’s prairie dog range– dozens of people pointed me to colonies that had existed within the past few years, and I arrived to find only unmaintained, unoccupied burrows.

Prairie dog researchers at a colony that is slowly recovering from plague



Welcome to the pdogblog May 5, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lorensackett @ 04:31

Welcome to my prairie dog blog!  Here I will discuss science and adventure related to my research on prairie dogs in the Four Corners states.  For general information about my research, please check out my website:

Stay tuned for prairie dog science from the field!