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Individual study: Effect of group size on survival of relocated prairie dogs

Published source details

Robinette K.W., Andelt W.F. & Burnham K.P. (1995) Effect of group size on survival of relocated prairie dogs. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 59, 867-874

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Release translocated/captive-bred mammals in larger unrelated groups Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A replicated, paired sites study in 1990–1991 in three grassland sites in Colorado, USA (Robinette et al. 1995) found that larger groups of translocated black‐tailed prairie dogs Cynomys ludovicianus attracted more immigrants and had higher reproductive success and initial daily survival rate than smaller groups. Over one year, prairie dogs translocated in groups of 59 individuals attracted more immigrants (13.7) than those translocated in groups of 30 (4.0) or 10–11 (1.5). Reproductive success was higher in prairie dogs translocated as groups of 59 individuals (0.79 pups/animal released) than groups of 10–11 (0.28 pups/animal released), but similar to those released as groups of 30 individuals (0.62 pups/animal released). Groups of 59 prairie dogs had higher daily survival rates in the first 23-51 days after release (99.1%) than groups of 30 (98.5%) or 10 prairie dogs (97.7%) but by the second monitoring period (139-142 days later) daily survival rates were the same for all three groups sizes (99.8%). Between July and October 1990, six groups of 10–11, three of 30 and three of 59 prairie dogs were released into three experimental blocks with four plots (2-6 ha depending on group size) in each (2 containing 10-11 prairie dog groups, 1x 30 prairie dog group and 1x 59 prairie dog group, randomly assigned), within a 69-km2 military area. Prairie dogs were trapped four times during one year post-release, using 1.5 traps/released individual, over four days.

(Summarised by Ricardo Rocha)