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Wednesday, April 11 • 4:30pm - 4:45pm
HABITAT FRAGMENTATION/CONNECTIVITY: Long-Term Declines in Urban Prairie Dogs

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AUTHORS: Mason Fidino and Seth Magle - Institution: Urban Wildlife Institute, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago

ABSTRACT: Habitat fragmentation via urbanization can significantly alter connectivity for wildlife populations, and therefore the collective ability of a species to persist in urban habitat remnants. To explore this relationship, we used a long-term dataset spanning 15 years to assess trends in the metapopulation dynamics of the black-tailed prairie dog, a potential keystone species, in 384 urban habitat remnants in Denver, Colorado, USA. We developed a Bayesian multi-state model to predict the annual probability that 1) prairie dogs locally colonize an undeveloped habitat remnant, 2) prairie dogs go locally extinct in an undeveloped habitat remnant and 3) a habitat remnant is developed. Both available habitat remnants and number of prairie dog colonies declined precipitously over the course of study, though we also monitored new colonization events, which were most correlated to habitat connectivity. Between 2002 – 2007 an average of 7.74% of sites were developed annually, however, observed trends indicate that this development rate may be slowing. Despite this, the rate of decline of urban prairie dogs estimated by our model closely reflected the observed data, and extinction rates generally exceeded colonization rates for this species across all years. Using data on declines during the study we project a 40% probability that prairie dogs will be extirpated from this area by 2067, though that probability could range as high as 50% or as low as 20% based on differing development scenarios. We suggest that prairie dog fulfill important ecological roles in urban landscapes, and could persist in the Denver area with appropriate management and habitat protections.

Wednesday April 11, 2018 4:30pm - 4:45pm CDT
Hancock Parlor

Attendees (6)