Comparing Small Mammal Communities on Remnant and Restored Prairies with a Special Emphasis on Rare Species

Olivia Vergin, Faith James, Peyton Lehman, and Dr. Joseph Whittaker, Department of Biology, Concordia College, 901 8th St S, Moorhead, MN 56562.

As urban expansion converts wildlife habitats into agricultural and industrial land, native prairie lands have been reduced to 1% of their original area. This increases habitat fragmentation that disrupts species dynamics and populations, leading to low genetic diversity. Small mammals are vital to prairie ecosystems because they consume plant material and invertebrates, disperse seeds, and provide a source of food for larger species. Trapping of remnant and restored prairies provides data on small mammal community density and diversity. Comparing population data between remnant and restored prairies can inform successful management and restoration practices. We trapped small mammals in various remnant and restored prairies in northwestern Minnesota from 2012 to 2020 to compare small mammal species richness and evenness as well as to monitor populations of rare species. We set two to three grids with 50 traps (alternating Small Sherman, Large Sherman, and Longworth) per grid at each location. When a mammal was captured, we identified species, sex, and mass, and then marked for recapture. We collected body measurements and saliva samples from Peromyscus species for species identification. Our data analysis includes Simpson’s Reciprocal Index for richness and evenness, population trends for common and rare species, and species comparisons between restored and remnant prairies. Through our prairie surveys, we document occurrences of rare species, such as Perognathus flavescens, Microtus ochrogaster, and Zapus hudsonius. Our findings will help inform future management decisions. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: Faith James, Olivia Vergin, Faith James, Peyton Lehman

Institution: Concordia College - Moorhead

Type: Poster

Subject: Ecology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 5
Date/Time: Tue 12:30pm-1:30pm
Session Number: 4110