Ecological Changes In Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Populations In Colorado

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Although Colorado’s growing population may be beneficial for the economy and social standings in our country, it poses some ecological concerns. According to the Colorado State Demography Office, Colorado’s population has grown by nearly 75% since 1985 (Figure 1). In fact, Larimer County’s population has doubled in that same time period. It has become evident that changes in Colorado’s landscape have been altered due to this population boom. It is within our best interest to evaluate the ecological concerns associated with such anthropogenic disturbances, specifically along the Front Range of Larimer County. By observing and sampling areas where black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) have settled, and where they
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They have traditionally been viewed as competitors with cattle for rangeland resources, so eradication programs have reduced populations to less than two percent of those several decades ago (Whicker and Detling 1988). The Colorado Parks and Wildlife have now deemed this keystone species as a species of concern due to sylvatic plague, direct loss of habitat to urban/suburban development, habitat fragmentation, conversion of habitat to agricultural uses, systematic poisoning, recreational shooting, and inadequate regulatory mechanisms. Our biggest concerns are focused on habitat loss and fragmentation and systematic poisoning and how they connect to Colorado’s growth in population.
The grasslands along the Front Range are primarily inhabited by native grasses including, needle and thread grass (Stipa comata) and blue gramma grass (Bouteloua gracilis), as part of the primary producers of the ecosystem. In areas where prairie dogs are present, native grass populations decline at a rather quick rate and are often low in richness, evenness, and diversity (Beals et al. 2014). We will look at how this affects the rest of the grassland ecosystem and changes it where trophic efficiency is concerned. Prairie dogs are useful for trophic efficiency because they help maintain the growth of primary producers in the grasslands.
Zinc phosphide rodenticide is an inorganic pesticide that

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