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SGS-LTER Long-Term Monitoring Project: Small Mammals on Trapping Webs on the Central Plains Experimental Range, Nunn, Colorado, USA 1994 -2006, ARS Study Number 118

Metadata Updated: November 10, 2020

This data package was produced by researchers working on the Shortgrass Steppe Long Term Ecological Research (SGS-LTER) Project, administered at Colorado State University. Long-term datasets and background information (proposals, reports, photographs, etc.) on the SGS-LTER project are contained in a comprehensive project collection within the Digital Collections of Colorado ( The data table and associated metadata document, which is generated in Ecological Metadata Language, may be available through other repositories serving the ecological research community and represent components of the larger SGS-LTER project collection. Additional information and referenced materials can be found: Small mammals (rabbits, rodents) are integral components of semiarid ecosystems because of their roles as consumers of plants, seeds and arthropods, as soil disturbance agents, and as food for raptors, snakes and mammalian carnivores. Because of their vagility and intermediate trophic position, populations of small mammals may track changes in vegetation and the abiotic environment that may result from shifts in land-use and other anthropogenic disturbances. However, these populations are variable over space and time, and their response to environmental changes may not be immediately apparent given their behavioral flexibility and relatively long life-spans and generation times. Patterns in the distribution and abundance of small mammals thus may simultaneously reflect and affect the stability of the shortgrass-steppe ecosystem. Long-term studies of population and community dynamics therefore are needed to fully understand the role of small mammals in grassland ecosystems. In 1994, we implemented a sampling scheme to monitor long-term changes in relative abundance of small mammals in representative habitats of shortgrass steppe. We live-trapped nocturnal rodents twice each year (spring, late summer) on trapping webs in upland prairie (GRASS) and saltbush-dominated (SHRUB) habitats. Three 3.14-ha webs were established in each habitat. Each web had 124 Sherman traps, which were spaced 10-m apart on 12 100-m spokes, with 30 degrees between spokes. Four traps were set in the center of the web. Traps were set for four consecutive nights in each trapping session. Traps are baited with a mix of peanut butter and oats, set in the evening and checked (and closed) at dawn. We recorded sex, age and weight upon first capture of all individuals. In the early years of the study, individuals were batch-marked (Sharpie colored felt markers) to distinguish recaptures from new individuals, providing the minimum information necessary to use distance-sampling methods to estimate density. Most nocturnal species are now usually marked with aluminum ear tags, although we continue to mark very small (pocket mice) or small-eared (voles) species only with felt pens. For ear-tagged animals, we distinguish new captures (N) from individuals marked during previous sessions (old, O), versus those that are recaptured (R) on 2nd, 3rd or 4th nights of a trapping session. The location of one trapping web was changed from 13NE (1994-1997) to 13SW (1998- present) because of concerns about intensive cattle use in the pasture, as well as activity of CPER Site Manager’s cats.

Access & Use Information

Non-public: This dataset is not for public access or use. Specific details are provided below. License: No license information was provided. If this work was prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person's official duties it is considered a U.S. Government Work.

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Metadata Created Date November 10, 2020
Metadata Updated Date November 10, 2020

Metadata Source

Harvested from USDA JSON

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date November 10, 2020
Metadata Updated Date November 10, 2020
Publisher Agricultural Research Service
Unique Identifier Unknown
Identifier knb-lter-sgs.137.17
Data Last Modified 2020-08-25
Public Access Level non-public
Bureau Code 005:18
Metadata Context
Schema Version
Catalog Describedby
Program Code 005:040
Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash 5c33ba027cce2edd1ea31b4777421fbf729897a6
Source Schema Version 1.1
Spatial POLYGON ((-104.785833 40.8575, -104.730556 40.8575, -104.730556 40.800278, -104.785833 40.800278))

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