Master's Theses

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Date of Award

Fall 1974

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Dr. Eugene Flaherty


Ecological parameters for white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) were estimated from data collected by live-trapping in a riparian habitat in west-central Kansas from October of 1972 through September of 1973. The distribution of white-footed mice on the study area was irregular, and revealed a definite preference for a wooded habitat dominated by American elm (Ulmus americana), box elder (Acer negundo), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), and honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) . Lowest crude densities (7.2/ha) were recorded for late spring and early summer and the highest (40.5/ha) during autumn (October). Ecological densities fluctuated from a summer low of 0/ha in less preferred habitats to autumn (October, 1972) and summer (July, 1973) highs of 124/ha and 111/ha, respectively, in the preferred habitat. Home ranges of males (0.07 +/- 0.03 ha) and females (0.03 +/- 0.01 ha) did not differ significantly. Greatest distances traveled by males did not differ significantly from those of females although a few males traversed more than 100 m in 24 hours during the summer. Population turnover was 35% complete after the first month and 99% complete after only six months. During the study, 37 males and 37 females were on the study area an average of 74 and 82 days, respectively. Biannual peaks in population density occurred after the breeding periods in early autumn (September) and summer (June). The September and June cohorts each produced 31% of the total newborn young. Rates of individual and biomass turnover were 5.94 and 2.01 times per year, respectively. Secondary productivity varied from a low of 0.004g/ha/day in December to a high of 7.1/g/ha/day in June. The white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) has an extensive geographic distribution in the western hemisphere (Hall and Kelson, 1959). Kansas is at the western periphery of the range of the species; P. leucopus occurs throughout the state except in four western counties (Fleharty and Stadel, 1968). Absence of the species in those counties presumably is due to the lack of suitable deciduous communities in riparian habitats along much of the western border of Kansas (for additional comments, see Frydendall 1961 and 1969; Kaufman and Fleharty 1974; Choate and Fleharty 1974) Population parameters for Peromyscus leucopus have been determined previously (e.g., Burt 1940; Snyder 1956; Stickel 1960), but no previous study has dealt with riparian communities near the periphery of the geographical range of the species where environmental conditions might be considered marginal. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to elucidate the following parameters for Peromyscus leucopus in western Kansas: 1) habitat preference; 2) densities (crude and ecological); 3) movements (home range and greatest distance traveled); 4) population fluctuations, including rates of individual and biomass turnover; and 5) secondary productivity.


Copyright 1974 Roderick Smrcka


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