BEHAVIORAL DIFFERENCES IN A REINTRODUCED BLACK-TAILED PRAIRIE DOG, CYNOMYS LUDOVICIANUS, POPULATION

picture of Brianna Rico presenting his/her poster: BEHAVIORAL DIFFERENCES IN A REINTRODUCED BLACK-TAILED PRAIRIE DOG, CYNOMYS LUDOVICIANUS, POPULATION

Brianna Rico , Sarah Hale, John L Koprowski

BEHAVIORAL DIFFERENCES IN A REINTRODUCED BLACK-TAILED PRAIRIE DOG, CYNOMYS LUDOVICIANUS, POPULATION

The role of ‘personality’ or individual differences in behavior has become an important topic in behavioral and population ecology.  Individual differences may account for important variation in sociality and lifetime reproductive success within populations.  However, the existence of personalities has only been documented in a few dozen species.  I was interested to determine if such personalities exist in a reintroduced population of black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) and whether such variation was related to behavioral patterns and fitness correlates important for project success. Sixteen female black-tailed prairie dogs were exposed to
five minute mirror image stimulation (MIS) trials in southeastern Arizona during the summer of 2012.  The video recordings were interpreted and the data were analyzed using IBM SPSS Statistics.  A principal components analysis produced three components: sociability, antisocial, and avoidance.  Variables such as muzzling the image, quick to approach and activities in the front half of the arena near the mirror weighed heavily on sociability.  Antisocial variables included parallel orientation, lying, never approaching the image, and activities in the back half of the arena.  When sociability was plotted against the antisocial component, three behavioral types were elucidated, gregarious, social, and antisocial, which suggests that prairie dogs have different personalities.  Future research must determine the repeatability of MIS process and assess the ecological significance of the individual behavioral differences.  Funding for this research has been provided by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant 52006942, the Undergraduate Biology Research Program, University of Arizona School of Natural Resources and the Environment, Phoenix Zoo, Bureau of Land Management, and Arizona Game and Fish Department.

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