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Data on finite population change for 3 species of prairie dogs in Montana and Utah, USA, 2000-2005

April 7, 2021

Data on annual population change for prairie dogs in Montana and Utah, USA, 2000-2005. Prairie dog species included black-tailed prairie dogs (PDs) (BTPD, Cynomys ludovicianus) in north-central Montana, white-tailed PDs (WTPD, Cynomys leucurus) in eastern Utah, and Utah PDs (UPD, Cynomys parvidens) in southwestern Utah. Field research was completed by the U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center, and colleagues. Data were collected on paired plots. Each pair included a plot treated annually with deltamethrin dust for flea control and plague mitigation and a plot left untreated as baselines. Paired plots had similar ecological features on the same (split) or nearby (separate) colonies. One plot within each pair was randomly selected for deltamethrin dust treatment. We used summertime visual counts as an index to PD population size.We conducted visual counts annually during June-August, after young PDs were aboveground. We used binoculars and spotting scopes to systematically and repeatedly scan the plots (each plot was 3-9 hectares in area), beginning just after sunrise and continuing until warming temperatures caused a decline in counts. We repeated the procedure for three days, using for analysis the highest count obtained. We counted from the same locations each year, simultaneously counting treated and non-treated plots of each pair. Visual counts were transformed into values of finite population change by dividing the PD count at the end of an annual interval by the count at the beginning of the interval. For example, if year is 2001, then population change was for the interval 2000 to 2001. Primary funding was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Bureau of Land Management, supplemented by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the Utah Department of Natural Resources Endangered Species Mitigation Fund. In-kind support was provided by the Bryce Canyon National Park, Dixie National Forest and BLM offices in Utah (Vernal, Cedar City, Richfield, and Torrey), Colorado (Meeker), and Montana (Malta). R. Reading and B. Miller of the Denver Zoological Foundation provided logistical support for parts of the study.