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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Jonathan A. Jenks


In recent years, there has been escalating concern for loss of biodiversity at the global scale. National and state parks have been established, in part, to preserve biodiversity of a region; however, a park cannot manage biota without first conducting a biological inventory. An inventory of species abundance, along with habitat preference, and ecological roles, provides an indication of biodiversity. Wind Cave National Park (WCNP) is nearly 100 years old, during this time no parkwide small mammal survey has been conducted. The purpose of this research project was to conduct a biodiversity survey of the small mammal community that inhabits WCNP. For this study, small mammals are defined as those mammals which weigh less than 4.54 kg (1 O pounds), the upper limit weight for the white-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus townsendil) . Bats were not included in this small mammal survey. The objectives of this research project were to: (1) determine the small mammals that occur in WCNP; (2) associate small mammals with vegetation alliances found within WCNP; (3) document areas of high species richness of small mammals in WCNP; (4) document the locations of northern flying squirrels in WCNP; and (5) determine vegetation alliances found within flying squirrel home ranges. Field work was conducted during the summers of 1999 and 2000. In 1999, 20 vegetation alliances with multiple replicates were sampled for small mammals using 400 m traplines consisting of 20 stations. In 2000, 16 vegetation alliances were sampled for small mammals for eight nights. Home ranges of flying squirrels were determined using both the minimum convex polygon (MCP) and adaptive kernel (ADK) methods. In 1999, 1, 158 small mammals were collected during 20,800 trap nights and in 2000 348 small mammals were captures during 10,880 trap nights. Totals of 15 and 16 species of small mammals were recorded in 1999 and 2000, respectively, providing a total species richness for WCNP of 18 species of small mammals. The most common species captured in the Park were deer (Peromiscus manicu/atus) and white-footed mice (Peromiscus leucopus), least chipmunks (Tamias minimus), and southern red-backed voles ( Clethrionomys gappen). Rare species captured in the Park included the hispid pocket mouse ( Chaetodipus hispidus) and least shrew (Cryptotis parva). Live trapping techniques alone did not detect all small mammals; more species were detected with multiple trap types, which included fatal methods. Riparian areas contained the highest species richness, parity of five, which consisted of a boxelder (Acer negundo)/chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) vegetation alliance. Woodland vegetation alliances contained higher species richness than grassland vegetation alliances. Seven species were found to differ in mean relative abundance across vegetation alliances. Four female flying squirrels were radiocollared. Radio tracking activities resulted in 12 to 28 telemetry locations per individual ( x=20.5). Mean home range size of adult female squirrels was 4.63 ± 0.68 (SE) ha using 95% MCP and 13.35 ± 3.6 ha using 95% ADK procedures. The 50% MCP and ADK core areas were 0.66 ± 0.34 ha and 2.29 ± 0.33 ha, respectively. The ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)llittle bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) vegetation alliance was the most abundant vegetation alliance within the 95 and 50% ADK home ranges . In the future, a more intense survey of microhabitat characteristics should be conducted over the entire Black Hills for all small mammals, including the northern flying squirrel. WCNP will use this information to meet current National Environmental Policy Act compliance documents to redesign their prescribed fire program. In addition, this information will provide the South Dakota Gap Analysis Project with a new Global Information Systems (GIS) layer for mapping and tracking small mammals in the Black Hills.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Mammals--South Dakota--Wind Cave National Park
Biodiversity--South Dakota--Wind Cave National Park


Includes bibliographical references (pages 85-92)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2001 Jeremy J. Duckwitz. All rights reserved.