Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Program

Geosciences

Date of Award

5-2020

Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

T. Andrew Joyner

Committee Members

Ingrid E. Luffman, Jim I. Mead

Abstract

Ecological niche models (ENMs) were created for White-tailed and Black-tailed prairie dogs and projected into the Last Interglacial (LI), the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), and mid-Holocene (mid-H) to discern possible past suitable habitat for both species. Additionally, ENMs were projected into the future year 2070 representative concentration pathways (RCPs) 2.6 and 8.5 to discern how climate change may affect future habitat suitability. Kernel density estimations, minimum convex polygons, and median distribution centers of White-tailed and Black-tailed occurrence records were examined between time-periods to discern the effects of anthropogenic westward expansion on both species’ distributions. Current ENMs were constructed from commonly used bioclimatic variables and non-traditional variables (including EPA level III Ecoregions) for White-tailed and Black-tailed prairie dogs for variable comparison performance in ENMs. Results indicate that both species respond to climate change and each occupy distinct ecological niches. Biogeographical changes coincident with westward expansion remain unknown.

Document Type

Thesis - embargo

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

Available for download on Friday, April 05, 2024

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