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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

Kent C. Jensen


Grazing enhances burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) habitat in tall-grass prairies; however, limited research has been conducted in mixed-grass prairies regarding the relationship between burrowing owls and large herbivores. I examined the influence of grazing by bison (Bison bison) and cattle on burrowing owls on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, South Dakota. Burrowing owl densities were sampled in each of three bison-grazed sites, three cattle-grazed sites, and three ungrazed sites. Nine blacktailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) towns were chosen as study sites, which ranged in size from 9.3 ha to 160.1 ha. The average year-long stocking rate for each study site was 10.7 hectares/animal unit. I sampled burrowing owl densities, prairie dog activity (inactive and active burrow density) and town size for each study site in 2004 and 2005. There was a significant difference in owl densities among grazing treatments and study sites (P < 0.001 and P = 0.001). Owl densities were higher on bison-grazed sites than on cattle-grazed and ungrazed sites. Although inactive burrow density was not significantly different among treatments, it was positively correlated with owl densities. Factors not measured may have contributed to the differences observed in grazing treatments. Incorporation of grazing practices and preservation of active prairie dog towns is encourage to ensure that burrowing owls are effectively managed on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Burrowing owl -- Habitat -- South Dakota -- Cheyenne River Indian Reservation
Grazing -- South Dakota -- Cheyenne River Indian Reservation
Bird populations -- South Dakota -- Cheyenne River Indian Reservation
Prairie dogs -- South Dakota -- Cheyenne River Indian Reservation


Includes bibliographical references (page 24-31)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2005 Joanna O. Murray. All rights reserved.