Natural Resources, School of


First Advisor

Scott E. Hyngstrom

Date of this Version



Foster, Nancy S. 1990. " A Report on Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs in Nebraska-- Their Biology, Behavior, Ecology, Management, And Response to a Visual Barrier Fence" (M.S. Thesis, University of Nebraska). pp. 69


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College in the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife, Under the Supervision of Professor Scott E. Hygnstrom. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 1990

Copyright 1990 Nancy S. Foster


I examined the effects of a visual barrier fence, which had a see-through visibility of 600/0, on the foraging, vigilance, and aggressive behaviors of adult female black-tailed prairie dogs from June through August 1990 in central Nebraska. I also examined changes in their home ranges and use of an area in response to this fence. Prairie dogs prefer an open view of their surroundings. Therefore, I expected animals near a visual barrier to spend more time in vigilance and aggression, and less time foraging. Adult female prairie dogs exposed to the visual barrier devoted more time to foraging and less time to headbobbing than those not exposed to a visual barrier (P = 0.0876, P = 0.0150) Only 1 act of aggression was observed during the season. I expected that prairie dogs would move away from the visual barrier fence. The home ranges and core activity areas of adult females were relatively constant in size, shape and location throughout the study. The number of prairie dogs using areas at various distances from a visual barrier fence also did not change over time. These results indicate that the visual barrier fence tested did not cause prairie dogs to be more vigilant and aggressive, nor did it affect their spatial use within the colony. In addition to the research project, I wrote 2 popular articles on prairie dogs. These articles covered the following topics: distribution of species, life history, social organization, communication and behavior, associated plant and animal communities, and management. The first article will appear in the June 1991 issue of NEBRASKAland, which is distributed to 60,000 people. The second article was published as a brochure with assistance from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Chevron Corporation. One-hundred thousand copies of this brochure have been produced and distributed to U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Cooperative Extension Service offices.

Adviser: Scott E. Hygnstrom