We analyzed the relationship between landscape context and the vigilance and foraging patterns of the black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) in urban and rural areas. We observed five colonies, two in urban areas and three in rural areas from 23 March–20 April 2016, 31 August–19 September 2016, 26 March–12 April 2017, and 7 September–17 October 2017. We measured vigilance by observing individual prairie dogs for 5 min and recording the amount of time the individual spent vigilant or foraging. In addition, the total number of individuals in the colony that were actively vigilant or foraging were counted every 10 min for 1 h. Prairie dogs in rural colonies were more vigilant than those in urban colonies and displayed a lower proportion of individuals that were non-vigilant in both the spring and summer. Because prairie dogs in urban colonies might be habituated to disturbance and have a relatively low risk of predation, individuals spent much less time vigilant. Our findings could be used to better understand behavioral changes in black-tailed prairie dogs caused by encroaching urban development.
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Vol. 185 • No. 2