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Cynomys leucurus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA RODENTIA SCIURIDAE

Scientific Name: Cynomys leucurus
Species Authority: Merriam, 1890
Common Name(s):
English White-tailed Prairie Dog
Taxonomic Notes: Cynomys parvidens has been regarded as a subspecies of Cynomys leucurus by some authors. Thorington and Hoffmann (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) recognized the two taxa as distinct species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Linzey, A.V. & NatureServe (Hammerson, G.)
Reviewer(s): Amori, G., Koprowski, J. & Roth, L. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority)
Justification:
Listed as Least Concern because it is relatively widespread, and still occurs throughout most of its historic range, although colony size and distribution are much reduced. The rate of decline in population is not sufficient to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is known from Bighorn Basin in extreme southern Montana, south across central and southwestern Wyoming into western Colorado and northeastern Utah in the United States.
Countries:
Native:
United States (Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is apparently secure in its range (NatureServe). Populations undergo year to year fluctuations, with one colony known to vary from 11 to 67 animals. Average density is 3.2/ha, with a range of 0.72-6.2/ha.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It inhabits xeric sites with mixed stands of shrubs and grasses. It lives at higher elevations and in meadows with more diverse grass and herb cover than do Black-tailed Prairie Dogs (Hoffman, in Wilson and Ruff 1999).

Young are born in underground burrows. Breeding occurs shortly after female emergence from hibernation; juveniles appear above ground in early June, 5-7 weeks postpartum; both sexes breed as one year olds. They form loose colonies.

Major predators like golden eagle and badger have been considered minor causes of mortality. It is susceptible to rapid population declines resulting from flea-borne sylvatic plague (Clark et al. 1971; see also papers by Barnes, Cully, and Fitzgerald in Oldemeyer et al. 1993).

It feeds primarily on forbs and grasses. Like C. ludovicianus, it probably prefers forbs over grasses. Its feeding habits may therefore favour the increase of good forage grasses, except in poor rangeland (Clark et al. 1971).

Individuals emerge from hibernation in the spring (males in late February or early March, two to three weeks before females). During the summer most activity occurs in the morning and late afternoon. By late August all adults are inactive. It may arouse periodically during hibernation period.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Sylvatic plague, poisoning, and the conversion of lands to agriculture and urbanization are localised threats.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is not known to occur in any protected areas.

Citation: Linzey, A.V. & NatureServe (Hammerson, G.) 2008. Cynomys leucurus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 28 August 2014.
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