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SGS-LTER Long-Term Monitoring Project: Spermophilus tridecemlineatus on Small Mammal Trapping Webs on the Central Plains Experimental Range, Nunn, Colorado, USA 1999 -2006, ARS Study Number 118

This data package was produced by researchers working on the Shortgrass Steppe Long Term Ecological Research (SGS-LTER) Project, administered at Colorado State University. Long-term datasets and background information (proposals, reports, photographs, etc.) on the SGS-LTER project are contained in a comprehensive project collection within the Digital Collections of Colorado (http://digitool.library.colostate.edu/R/?func=collections&collection_id=...). The data table and associated metadata document, which is generated in Ecological Metadata Language, may be available through other repositories serving the ecological research community and represent components of the larger SGS-LTER project collection. Additional information and referenced materials can be found: http://hdl.handle.net/10217/83456.

Small mammals (rabbits, rodents) are integral components of semiarid ecosystems because of their roles as consumers of plants, seeds and arthropods, as soil disturbance agents, and as food for raptors, snakes and mammalian carnivores. Because of their vagility and intermediate trophic position, populations of small mammals may track changes in vegetation and the abiotic environment that may result from shifts in land-use and other anthropogenic disturbances. However, these populations are variable over space and time, and their response to environmental changes may not be immediately apparent given their behavioral flexibility and relatively long life-spans and generation times. Patterns in the distribution and abundance of small mammals thus may simultaneously reflect and affect the stability of the shortgrass-steppe ecosystem. Long-term studies of population and community dynamics therefore are needed to fully understand the role of small mammals in grassland ecosystems. Thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus, SPTR) are the most widely distributed rodent species in shortgrass steppe and the most important in terms of abundance and biomass. Like most rodents in shortgrass steppe, they are omnivorous; unlike other species, however, they are diurnal and active aboveground only 5-6 months each year, and therefore required a separate sampling scheme from other rodents. In 1999, we initiated studies to track long-term changes in relative abundance of ground squirrels in representative habitats of shortgrass steppe. We live-trapped squirrels twice each year, which corresponded to periods of high aboveground activity of adults (early June, SPR) and the emergence of juveniles (mid-July, SUM). Three 3.14-ha webs were established in upland prairie (GRASS) and saltbush-dominated (SHRUB) habitats. Each web had 62 Sherman traps, which were spaced 20-m apart on 12 100-m spokes, with 30 degrees between spokes. Two traps were set in the center of the web. Traps were set for four consecutive mornings in each trapping session. Traps were baited with a mix of peanut butter and oats, set at dawn and closed 4-6 hours later. Traps were shaded with pieces of PVC pipe to reduce heat mortality in traps. We recorded sex, age and weight upon first capture of all individuals. Because the ears of squirrels are too small to consistently hold ear tags, all individuals were batch-marked with a colored Sharpie felt marker to distinguish recaptures ® from new (N) individuals, providing the minimum information necessary to use distance-sampling methods to estimate density. NOTE: In this dataset, ages and weights may not correspond well. Weight, combined with sampling date, can be used to better determine age class; contact Paul Stapp for more information.

Release Date
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Area
POLYGON ((-104.785833 40.8575, -104.730556 40.8575, -104.730556 40.800278, -104.785833 40.800278))
Publisher Not Specified
Temporal Coverage
June 1, 1999 to July 27, 2006
Creative Commons Attribution
Contact Name
Stapp, Paul
Contact Email
Public Access Level
Program Code
005:040 - Department of Agriculture - National Research
Bureau Code
005:18 - Agricultural Research Service
Source ID
Harvested from Geodata Harvest
Harvest Source TitleGeodata Harvest
Harvest Source URIhttps://geodata.nal.usda.gov/geonetwork/srv/eng/csw
Last Harvest PerformedWed, 06/03/2020 - 01:00

Metadata Source

NAL Geospatial Catalog