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Complex rodent communities occupy the western United States. These communities are susceptible to the exotic disease, plague, that has become enzootic in the region since 1899. Weather conditions, the susceptibility of rodent species to plague, population dynamics, and the intra-specific interactions between populations of mammals and their flea associates all contribute to the periodic outbreaks of plague. Understanding these ecological relationships allows managers to generate predictions and to intervene in plague situations so as to reduce the negative effects on ecosystems and to reduce the risk of plague to humans.