Use of multi-opening burrow systems by black-footed ferrets

Western North American Naturalist



Multi-opening burrow systems constructed by prairie dogs (Cynomys) ostensibly provide escape routes when prairie dogs are pursued by predators capable of entering the burrows, such as black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes), or by predators that can rapidly dig into the tunnels, such as American badgers (Taxidea taxus). Because badgers also prey on ferrets, ferrets might similarly benefit from multi-opening burrow systems. Using an air blower, white-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys leucurus) burrow openings were tested for connectivity on plots occupied by black-footed ferrets and on randomly selected plots in Wyoming. Significantly more connected openings were found on ferret-occupied plots than on random plots. Connected openings might be due to modifications by ferrets in response to plugging by prairie dogs, due to selection by ferrets for complex systems with multiple openings that are already unobstructed, or simply due to ferrets lingering at kill sites that were multi-opening systems selected by their prairie dog prey.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Use of multi-opening burrow systems by black-footed ferrets
Series title Western North American Naturalist
DOI 10.3398/064.072.0202
Volume 72
Issue 2
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher Brigham Young University
Publisher location Provo, UT
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 6 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Western North American Naturalist
First page 134
Last page 139
Country United States
State Wyoming
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