Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
The Utah prairie dog (Cynomys parvidens) was listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an endangered species in 1973 because of range-wide population declines. The species was reclassified as threatened in 1984 because of population increases on private lands. Habitat fragmentation coupled with a lack of suitable habitat has impeded species recovery. Desired species habitat conditions include 0-8% shrub cover, 12-40% cool-season grass cover, and 1-10% perennial forb cover. Cool-season grasses are critical for Utah prairie dogs because of high spring energy requirements. Past research suggested that reducing shrub cover may increase cover of desired grasses and forbs. From 2008-2010, I evaluated the effects of high intensity fall sheep grazing and low application of herbicide (tebuthiuron) as tools to reduce shrub cover and enhance grass and forb cover on the Awapa Plateau Utah prairie dog recovery area in south-central Utah. I placed 1700 ewes in 4 ha stratified and randomly selected plots until >70% vegetation utilization was achieved. Five additional randomly-selected plots were treated with tebuthiuron at a rate of ~1.68 kg/ha. Percent cover of grass, forbs, and shrubs was recorded on treatments and paired control plots in June 2009 and 2010 to determine treatment vegetation responses. I also affixed 22 juvenile Utah prairie dogs with radio transmitters to determine if over-winter survival differed relative to treatment. Live shrub cover was lower on grazed plots in year 1 (P
Caudill, Gretchen Elizabeth, "The Effects of Habitat Manipulations on Utah Prairie Dogs (Cynomys Parvidens) and Their Habitat on the Awapa Plateau Recovery Area in South-Central Utah" (2012). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 1271.
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